Union-Timbers: Lineups and prematch observations
- Let’s talk pyramids: Jim Curtin picks the same midfield personnel this week, but will it be the same structure? The Union succeeded last week in the second half against D.C. (albeit too little, too late in a 2-1 setback) when they left Haris Medunjanin as the lone shield for the back four with Alejandro Bedoya and Derrick Jones pushing forward (i.e., Jones further forward, Bedoya dropping further back). That formation probably suits the Union’s talent/absence of a true No. 10 better than the straight 4-2-3-1. But you’d better hope the Union have worked out the kinks, since Portland is a much better counter-attacking team than D.C.
- Richie Marquez is healthy, which means he’s back in the lineup. Jack Elliott denied his first MLS start as a result. Marquez’s health will be tested early and often with the physicality of Fanendo Adi.
- Marcus Epps on the bench? That’s, um, interesting, especially ahead of Fafa Picault.
- Few teams have as finely-crafted an identity on the field as the Timbers, so there should be no surprises for Union’s preparation. They have the hold-up play of Adi, the stellar wing skill of Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe and the ability to flip from defense to offense to rapidly with the dynamism of Diego Chara and David Guzman in the center of the park. There’s a reason why they lead MLS in goals this season, and it’s not just because they had Minnesota on the schedule already.
- Today marks the return of Amobi Okugo to Talen Energy Stadium. The midfielder/defender played 117 games for the Union through the 2014 season; since, he’s found it tough sledding with 23 games with Orlando City, Sporting Kansas City and now Portland. He has one start this season.