So to help get you ready for Saturday's big match, I had a chance to do the whole Q&A thing with Geoff Gibson of Stumptown Footy. So let's take a look at his answers to my questions:
1. What are the goals for the Timbers this season?
A. Without a doubt I would say make the play offs, which I think is pretty standard for any MLS team. Not quite sure why they wouldn't have that goal. I'll go one step further though and restate my desired intention for the Timbers to bring home at least one trophy this year. Allow me to clarify though on what that trophy could be. While MLS Cup would be great and is obviously the king of trophies now that the Supporters' Shield means nothing, I would also include the US Open Cup, the Western Conference trophy and, of course, the Cascadia Cup trophy. Each of those would be really important for the Timbers to get. The Supporters' Shield would be nice a well, but, in my opinion, it's at the bottom of the totem pole with the new schedule. Too many variables give some teams a better chance at getting it.
2. With Kenny Cooper gone, who do you expect to be the offensive threat that RSL and other teams have to look out for?
A. Kris Boyd, without a doubt. He's still getting into shape but with each game he seems more on the ball, literally, than each game before it. It was a poor display from the team as a whole against the New England Revolution last week, but one thing you can't say is "Kris Boyd had zero chances." The fact of the matter is he could have scored twice or three times himself, but couldn't get the ball to go where he wanted it.
Aside from Boyd, the usual suspects are still around. Expect Jack Jewsbury to be the corner/free kick taker. Kalif Alhassan has really been playing well with a goal and an assist to his name already. And Franck Songo'o is expected to do wonders for our wing positions with his fantastic technical skill. He took a shot from ~35 yards out against New England and it was perfectly on target... actually a little too on target as Matt Reis scooped it right up. Still, very impressive technically.
more Q&A after the jump:
3. Last year only the Vancouver Whitecaps gave up more goals than the Timbers in the Western Conference, what improvements has John Spencer made to the improve the defense this year?
A. There's really only two new faces in the backline this year: Andrew Jean-Baptiste, the rookie drafted out of the Super Draft, and Hanyer Mosquera a new Colombian that the Timbers brought on during the off season. The unfortunate part of it is that due to injuries we haven't really gotten a chance to see Mosquera truly shine and, when we finally thought we would last weekend, he ended up going down with a broken nose/concussion about 20 minutes in. Interestingly enough, this means that of the Timbers five center back defenders, three of them are seriously injured and can't play for at least another few weeks. Which leaves Eric Brunner and rookie Jean-Baptiste holding the stead. Luckily, despite being a rookie, Jean-Baptiste hasn't looked terrible out there, in fact I've been pretty impressed.
4. What is with the waving of the scarves by the Timbers Army as they sing the national anthem, Rhythmic Gymnastics?
A. You'll have to ask the Timbers Army heads for a better answer, but if it's what I think you're talking about it's just a tradition that livens up the whole thing and makes it not quite as dreadful as just standing there. I'm one of the few (or many!) people who don't really understand why we need to sing/listen to the national anthem at every single game. Still, the TA have made it fun and that's good enough for me.
5. If you could take one player from the RSL roster and add him to the Timbers, who would it be and why?
A. Honestly? Nobody. Not that Real Salt Lake isn't a great team. I think that's been proven over the last few seasons. Really, it all has to do with the fact that we're still early in this season and before I can begin thinking about who I would bring in from other teams I would need to see how well this current Timbers squad is going to shape up over the season. The Timbers added a lot of depth, which was something that was lacking last year, once everybody gets healthy I'd love to see how it all plays out.
That said, I would love to take RSL's incredibly short injury list right now. Totally envious over that right now.
Well there you go a good round of Q&A, if you want to see what answers I gave to Geoff's questions, just head over to Stumptown Footy and check them out.
Keep your eyes open later today for my full match preview.
OFF MY SOAPBOX