Dynamo Theory put a few questions to Stumptown Footy's Geoff Gibson concerning both Saturday's match and the Timbers in general, and he was kind enough to answer.
Unless you follow the league as a whole, you may not know too much about the Portland Timbers - other than the fact that they're hosting the Houston Dynamo this Saturday. We caught up with Stumptown Footy
editor Geoff Gibson and traded questions. His answers are below, and my answers to his questions can be found here
1. Last year, you guys brought in Scottish striker Kris Boyd, only to have the experiment end unsuccessfully after just one season. Given the expectations people had about him, do you think y'all might actually be better off without him?
Yes. Kris Boyd is a good target striker. You can see it when he plays. He just needs to right coach and the right team built behind him in order to be that great striker. The Portland Timbers foolishly thought they had that team early in 2012 when they actually did not. When new head coach Caleb Porter was brought in, he came with a plan to build a team based on a number of tactical and formation differences that Boyd would not have fitted well into. He even said as much during his announcement press release that Boyd would not work well in his system. As such, his departure was not a huge surprise.
That said, I think most of us did enjoy his time here in Portland. It's just a shame he wasn't able to be the star we all wanted.
2. Jeld-Wen Field always looks to be quite the environment, and the whole city seems to be behind your team. What is it about Portland that seems to nurture such widespread loyalty?
Hmm there are books written on this very subject, so I'm not sure I can answer it in a couple paragraphs. Bottom line, is that Portland's professional soccer history, as is well known, dates back to the old NASL days with the Portland Timbers. It was a popular team back then and, despite folding in less than 10 years, it sewed the seeds that are still blooming today. Believe it or not, but there are people in the Timbers Army section today that remember the NASL era Timbers.
Aside from that there are a number of other reasons why the Timbers are popular. Overall, the metro city area is fairly large and, prior to the Timbers joining MLS, the city had just a single NBA team to root for (Oregon Ducks/Beavers notwithstanding). The Timbers Army did a remarkable job marketing themselves and Timbers games as an experience, not a sporting event. The city, as with most cities in the US now, boasts huge numbers of youth players. Finally, the city has grown hugely attractive to young, urban college degree wielding people from all over the US who have disposable income and are looking for ways to connect with the city and its culture.
3. Just looking through the roster, it seems to me that the Timbers' strength, like Houston's lies in its midfield. Would you agree with this, and if not, what is the team's strength?
Yes, absolutely. The Timbers midfield with Diego Chara, Diego Valeri and Will Johnson creates a dangerous combination of guys who are extremely talented. Diego Chara should be fairly well known to you guys as he's been with the Timbers since 2011. He'll certainly be causing as much trouble as possible for guys like Brad Davis. Will Johnson should also be a bit familiar with you guys as he was a mainstay at Real Salt Lake for a good while. He's since assumed the captaincy of the Timbers and recently won player of the week for his second half heroics against the Colorado Rapids. Finally, Diego Valeri is a very talented creative midfielder. While Porter is still tinkering with him and figuring out what works best for him with the Timbers, it's already been proven that he can cause an incredible amount of damage. His goal against the New York Red Bulls, for instance, is probably already Goal of the Year material.
4. In your mind, what do you picture the Timbers XI to be come Saturday night?
Here's who I expect:
Donovan Ricketts; Ryan Miller, Mikael Silvestre, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington; Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Diego Chara; Kalif Alhassan, Ryan Johnson, Darlington Nagbe
Many thanks to Geoff for his answers and please, do him the favor of checking out their blog. There's plenty of interesting things to read there.