Reviewing What You Don't Want To Review
When a team starts the season like the Thunder did, with a 4-0 victory over Seattle Sounders on April 23, and then has what can only be described as a horrendous four game road trip, with two goals for and 10 against and only one point in the standings, you hope doppelgangers are real. Not only real, but that they can take the form of an entire athletic organization. Of course doppelgangers don't exist. The truth is that the Sounders were heavily depleted and our Thunder have yet to find a stable starting rotation or see their entire roster of players match fit.
At this early point in the season the Thunder are still working out a few starting line-up adjustments and player absences. Chad Dombrowski and Matt Schmidt got their first minutes this year in Portland on May 6. Both players were finishing up their indoor season with the Milwaukee Wave and will still need time to adjust to the outdoor game. Freddy Juarez and Nate Winkel, both recovering from injuries, didn't see their first action until the road match in Seattle two weeks ago. Godfrey Tenoff was late to arrive stateside from his native South Africa due to Visa issues and has yet to see a minute of action this year. The only certainties in the line-up for the Thunder so far have been Joe Warren in net, Dustin and Brett Branan in central defense, Kevin Friedland as a wing back and Melvin Tarley and Nate Knox up top.
Thunder results from four previous matches:
May 6th @ Portland 1-2 (L)
May 13th @ Seattle 1-1 (D)
May 14th @ Vancouver 0-3 (L)
May 21st @ Montreal 0-4 (L)
Coming off a 2-1 victory at home over Toronto, the Timbers arrive in Minnesota only one place ahead of the Thunder in the standings at 8th with a 2-1-4 (W-L-D) record. Like the Thunder, Portland has a new coach. Chris Agnello led the Utah Blitzz to the USL 2nd Division title in 2004 before coming to the Timbers as both coach and general mamanger. In the first match up between the Timbers and Thunder this year, Agnello's use of subs was frequent and effective resulting in a 2-1 victory.
Although familiar players like Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, Josh Saunders, Byron Alvarez, and Scot Thompson are still with the team, a slew of new players have already made names for themselves. Alejandro Gutierrez-Mendez, Oral Bullen, and Luke Kraemalmeyer have all contributed to creating a speedy midfield that wasn't present under former coach Bobby Howe in 2005. This new midfield has logged five of the Timbers eight goals this season. The only real concern for the Timbers coming in to this match is the status of Scot Thompson's head wound, which he suffered three weeks ago in Miami and reopened again in the Toronto match last Sunday.
Timbers results from four previous matches:
May 12th @ Miami 2-3 (L)
May 14th @Puerto Rico 1-3 (L)
May 19th Rochester 0-1 (L)
May 21st Toronto 2-1 (W)