Well, time to find out just how much momentum and confidence you can get from beating up a 3 legged, arthritic, toothless, blind, deaf goat wearing a muzzle. Yes, 3 goals was fun to watch, and hey those 3 points count just as much as any others do, but beating Chivas USA last week tells us nothing about TFC and the progress they may or may not have made under Greg Vanney in the 2 weeks since last they played a somewhat respectable team and somehow scraped a tie that should have been a win out of an overall poor performance.
This game, against a good team, in a playoff battle of their own, and coming off a 3-0 win over their rival for that playoff spot (you want to talk momentum after TFC beat Chivas? well, a win over vancouver, and a 4 game unbeaten streak sounds a lot more momentummy to me.) will be a true test. Win this one, and I might start to believe that Vanney has something to him and that the change of manager was in any way worth it.
Could it happen? Sure. Portland may have that 4 game unbeaten streak, but it's against teams that have been really struggling recently (how is that different from TFC I hear you ask?). They may have all sorts of talent up front and have scored a lot of goals, but they've been hapless all season in defence, they're by no means a juggernaut. And we've borrowed the Raptors trick of scheduling games against West coast opponents, the Timbers will essentially be playing at 10am, so hopefully their body clocks will be messed up enough that that has some kind of effect.
Meanwhile TFC have the band back together in defence. The one thing that really killed off Ryan Nelsen's tenure, and hurt the beginning of Vanney's, the undermanned chaos that led to far too many mistakes and soft goals is for now a thing of the past. As mentioned earlier, we can't take anything from the Chivas game, but hopefully the understanding shown earlier in the season can reappear. I'd expect Nick Hagglund to retain his spot over Doneil Henry which should help keep the glaring gaffes down, hopefully Steven Caldwell can keep his arms down and if so, then I've got a lot more confidence than usual that things might be ok back there.
Having said that, I can't help but feel that this game has goals written all over it, TFC pushing forward and committing to pressuring Portland and controlling the game should get it's benefits with a goal or two, but will also no doubt lead to counter attack opportunities for the likes of Diego Valeri and yes, Maximiliano Urruti to exploit. The ex TFC player scoring thing has gone from cliche to parody really, but they just keep doing it, so it's best to expect the worst there, and I'm sure if Urruti can knock one in, Kevin Payne would allow himself a chuckle.
TFC will of course be without Jackson, suspended 2 games for his decision to go full Jackson on Nigel Reo Coker last week, so presumably that will see Dominic Oduro return to the starting lineup on the right wing with Dan Lovitz on the left again. The happy to be here, and more hungry than ever to get TFC to the playoffs Jermain Defoe won't be ready for this game so that's obviously Gilberto and Luke Moore together again up front, with Dwayne de Rosario more than likely a second half sub which seems to be the pattern under Vanney. Collen Warner has also been pronounced not fit, so Michael Bradley and Jonathan Osorio seem the obvious midfield choice again.
Will all that be enough to get a result? Well let's hope so, there are very few games left to make up the gap to the playoff spots and really the home games have to been seen as must win games. Next week is away at L.A and you really can't expect any result there, so if we don't win here, then that gap could be way too big, and I've just bought tickets for the game after that in New York, so if they're out of contention by then that would be annoying.
For a fuller preview, click here for out storystream, with how you doin'? Know your enemy, the Vocal Minority Podcast and Smarter than Mariner. We'll have team news when it hits twitter and commentary and chat throughout the game. Join us here for that.
Come on you Reds!