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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Portland Soccer, April 11, 2013

There's a busy weekend coming up for the professional clubs in Portland. Saturday night the Thorns make their debut on the road at Kansas City. The game starts at 5:35 Portland time and is available to watch online at Home games will also be broadcast on AM 970. It's good to see long-time Portland sports broadcaster Ann Schatz will be around to call the games. She'll be joined by analyst Angela Harrison, who played goalkeeper for the Pilots from 1996-1999. She's been broadcasting Pilots games and her soccer knowledge and passion for the game was very apparent to anyone who watched. The Thorns made a great decision there. 

Meanwhile, the Timbers will be at home Sunday night to face the San Jose Earthquakes. San Jose won the Supporters Shield as the team with the best regular season record in MLS last year. Most of their team returns, including one of the top forwards in the league, Chris Wondolowski. This will be another tough test for Portland, like Houston was last week. 

Following up from last week's game, we learned more about the injuries to David Horst and Diego Valeri. Horst suffered a fracture at the top of his leg and will be out 4-6 months, which likely ends his season. The loss of Horst leaves the Timbers with a depth problem at center back. Mikael Silvestre is now assured of being a starter and his partner is likely to be second-year player Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Jean-Baptiste is still young and needs some more work but I think he'll do all right with veteran teammates in the other back line positions. After Jean-Baptiste, however, the Timbers have rookie Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, then Futty Danso, who has not made the game day roster all year and seems to be out of favor. Then there's Hanyer Mosquera who was back home in Colombia the last time anybody heard from him, so his days as a Timber appear to be numbered. In short, the Timbers are down to three regular center backs. This could be an area in which they make a trade.  

Valeri has been going through a set of tests any MLS player who suffers a possible concussion must go through in order to be cleared to play again. Depending on his condition he could be back Sunday but of course his health should come first, and concussions these days are treated as the serious injuries they are. If he can't play someone else in the midfield will have to fill the role of playmaker. Kalif Alhassan did well when he replaced Valeri and Rodney Wallace and Darlington Nagbe have turned out to be significantly improved so the Timbers may still be all right in the midfield. 

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