The last time Portland visited BMO Field it was smaller, it had fewer tenants, and Will Johnson got his leg broke. Johnson is set to make his return against the Reds. To his probable relief, Mark Bloom is out injured. Portland are fresh off of an away loss to Houston, while TFC have last week's gutsy result against New England to help carry them forward.
Match Talking Points
In the TFC camp, questions loom. Who will replace Jozy Altidore, who is set to be out for 4-5 weeks with a Hamstring Injury sustained in Danny Koeverman's Corner at Gillette Stadium? With Joe Bendik also out, will Chris Konopka build off of his MLS team of the week honours for his heroics in New England? With Robbie Findley newly added to the injury list, will Jordan Hamilton see MLS minutes?
Without Altidore, how will TFC play? Only Bright Dike brings a similar style of physicality and hold-up play, but he is away on loan. Luke Moore is the obvious option, though he hasn't inspired much confidence of late (since 2009). Odds are Bradley will play at the point of the midfield again, and the game will rest with Giovinco and a moment of quality.
Will (Will) Johnson Return?
Last year at BMO Field the Portland Timbers and Canadian national team midfielder went down to a broken leg after an early collision with Mark Bloom. There wasn't much in the challenge, but it left Johnson on the field in a ton of pain.
For a lesser man it would have been career ending, but if nothing else Johnson has proved that he is a battler throughout his career. After playing some games with the Portland Timber 2 USL affiliate, he is ready to get back into action with the first team.
While he will suit up against Portland, it is unclear how much of a roll he will play. But if he gets on the field at all it would be a fitting way to end his injury woes. Canadian men's national team supporters will be watching with a keen eye as Johnson could be very important to the team's summer plans.
TFC Starting XI
Pretty predictable stuff from TFC - they'll be relying on Giovinco, Cheyrou, and Bradley to create chances against a steady Timbers backline.
Keys to the Game
Midfield Control. With Diego Valeri and Will Johnson both expected to be available for this game, control of the midfield becomes a dogfight. TFC have classy players in Bradley and Cheyrou, but they lack the bulldog counterpart to Portland's Diego Chara.
Finishing. TFC will struggle for offence, but they need to capitalize on their chances. This means Luke Moore will have to be on his game, or more likely, that Sebastian Giovinco will have to put the team on his tiny back.
The game goes at 5:00 at BMO. You can watch on TSN, and catch all your coverage of the game here at Waking the Red.