Portland Timbers are an interesting side, as it would seem that regardless of the opposition, they're playing in essentially the same tactical approach, at least when we are looking at recent matches.
There is no doubting that Real Salt Lake and Seattle Sounders play quite different styles, and the recent matches between Portland and RSL and Portland and Seattle give us an opportunity to see how Portland responds. The answer is interesting, because if we're to look at chalkboards, it would seem they're playing essentially the same game.
As we face Timbers tomorrow, it would be interesting to take a look and see where things might differ and where things might remain essentially the same.
Passing against RSL (3-3): 324/425, 76 percent accuracy
Passing against Seattle (0-1): 310/413, 75 percent accuracy
Shooting against RSL: 5/16 on target — 6 blocked, with 11/16 in the box (68 percent)
Shooting against Seattle: 4/10 on target — 4 blocked, with 6/10 in the box (60 percent)
Interceptions against RSL: 9, all but one in the defensive half (one juuust over the midfield line, but let's call that the defensive half, too). Interceptions trended slightly toward the right side.
Interceptions against Seattle: 16, all but two in the defensive half. Interceptions again trending to the right side.
So while we can clearly see that the two matches are different, there are some elements in which they remain largely the same. This should give Jason Kreis an interesting platform to roll out a change or two tactically to attempt to counteract the Timbers style and approach. Perhaps it's as simple as switching the sides midfielders play on, or maintaining possession in the attacking half more regularly.
That the Timbers play essentially the same game week-in, week-out (at least without Will Johnson) — and again, I'll emphasize that these numbers don't necessarily show us that, but they give us some evidence that they do — speaks to their desire to be proactive in their approach, but it does remind me a bit of early Jason Kreis. He has since adapted his approach to be a bit more responsive while retaining that important proactive mindset, and it's surely benefited the club — this season has been a study in that.
Whatever the case, Friday will prove interesting.