After dropping three straight matches, the Timbers could definitely use some wings.
The home-field magic has lost a bit of its prestige for Portland, who look to put a two-match skid on ice at 7 tonight against the New York Red Bulls (on ROOT Sports and 750 AM).
But they'll have to do it without head coach John Spencer, who was suspended for tonight's match and fined $2,500 after opening his haggis trap and disparaging the fitness of MLS officials. Assistant coach Trevor James will fill in, though I wouldn't count on him throwing any gestures toward the refs.
While the Timbers are mired in their longest losing streak as an MLS club, the Eastern Conference-leading Red Bulls have made it clear they're not your father's MetroStars: New York flies into Portland for the first time having earned points in their past five matches (including a 2-1 victory last week at New England) and striker Thierry Henry appears to be in top form, having scored seven goals this season and already matching his 2010 assist total. New York will, however, be without the services of Gold Cuppers Rafa Marquez, Juan Agudelo, Dane Richards and Tim Ream, while Portland will look to David Horst to shore up a back line sans injured Futty Danso.
Although Portland was shut out in an MLS match for the first time at home last week, the Timbers played perhaps the most complete match of their season: Much, much improved possession, crispy passing/movement and perhaps the most sustained aggression seen all year wasn't rewarded, but certainly the Timbers created opportunities more reminiscent of their five-match home winning streak than the current skid.
More tonight, and of course, EXTRA TIME links after the jump to read before you call Dad.
EXTRA TIME! Links best mixed with vodka..
• Did you hear? Soccer is officially cool around the Pacific Northwest. Spread the word.
• Portland might have a bit of respect for Thierry Henry, according to The Trib's Stephen Alexander.
• The Red Bulls will look to feed off "a packed house" on their first trip to Portland, says Kristian Dyer of MLSsoccer.com.
• Mao of The Offside outlines some of Portland's needs heading into tonight's match, including continued solid play from Darlington Nagbe.
• MLS clubs shouldn't be selling out the front of their jerseys, says Joe Oneill of the Bleacher Report, who is apparently boycotting Alaska Airlines. In other news, Joe Oneill has been added to the terrorist watch list.
• A "very impressive" Red Bulls squad will look to exploit the Timbers young center backs tonight, says Geoff Gibson of Stumptown Footy.
• From the team site, Timbers' voice John Strong notes the importance of a good start, Brian Costello keys in on the David Horst vs. Luke Rodgers match-up and Troy Perkins, Diego Chara, Ryan Pore and Jack Jewsbury share thoughts on fatherhood.