As we do every week, I got with Geoff Gibson from SBnation's excellent Portland Timbers blog Stumptown Footy and we answered some questions about each others teams. Geoff's answers to my questions about the Timbers are below, you'll be able to find my answers about the Rapids on SF.
1. What different line-up changes or new faces will we be seeing in the Timbers line-up compared to the season opener?
Quite a few changes actually:
First, we have the starting keeper back, , who has been playing really well for the team, aside from that unfortunate DC United game. In the game against he was really the only player I was impressed by on the field and actually made MLS team of the week for it.
Second, Kalif Alhassan is starting regularly where as on March 19th he wasn't. This is a very agile, squirmy player who, somehow, manages to slip in and out of players at will. He's still young, but I definitely think in a few years he could be one of the best wingers in MLS if he doesn't get sold to Europe.
Third, Diego Chara is a new player since April. He brings a creative element to the midfield that wasn't there at the beginning of the season. He's still coming into the squad though, so he has room to get better acquainted with the play style and the city as a whole.
Fourth, Darlington Nagbe has recovered from injuries and is expected to be back out there tonight. He was pulled from the line up back in March when he had to undergo hernia surgery. As the #2 pick he's expected to do quite well for himself in MLS.Other changes have been made. By and large it's a different team that who Colorado played on March 19th.
2. The Timbers have been fantastic at home this year compared to the road. Is it all the Timbers Army giving home field advantage or do they just play in a different fashion while in Portland?
I definitely believe thehas an effect on the team. There's a lot of energy in the crowd and the entire stadium almost pulsates with said energy. I have no doubt that the players on the field feel that little extra bit of energy because of them. That said, the Timbers obviously aren't unbeatable at home (thankyouverymuch DC United). As for style, it's essentially the same. Same formation, same tactics, same players. They just play better at home.
3. Seeing what you have this far into the season, what do you think would be an acceptable and satisfying finishing spot for the Timbers?
Hard to say to be honest. Had the Timbers done worse thus far I might have said "anything but last place!" However, now that we know the team can win, they're expected to. At this point I'd say anything less than entry into the play-offs would be a disappointment. There are no "expansion" excuses allowed here and head coach John Spencer has said as much when the beginning of the season kicked off. The Timbers are here to win from the first day, every day.
4. Same as yours, starting line-up.