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Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers - 3 meows edition

OK, so the title is a bit cheeky and a clear poke at Portlandia clip about some new Timbers fans, if you haven't seen it well you are in luck:

OK, now that we have that out of the way, how about a round of 3 questions with Geoff of Stumptown Footy to help get ready for the big match on Saturday:

1) Coming off a great inaugural season where the Timbers just missed the playoffs, this year the team seems to have struggled from the start of the season and find themselves near the bottom of the Western Conference, what happened?

A) "It's the question that everybody keeps asking themselves and the one nobody can seem to agree on an answer for. The fact is, on paper, Portland's a great team. They've got a proven striker up top. Solid defenders at the back. And a bruiser in the midfield who holds things up in Diego Chara.

The reality is that it's probably a bunch of little things all building up and creating problems for the Timbers as a whole. First, there was a situation with injuries in the beginning of the season where many of the starters were not able to play. As the season wore on their were confidence issues and scoring issues (which seem to have subsided a bit as of late). Combine that with players who were perhaps effective last season but ineffective this season such as Jorge Perlaza, Lovel Palmer and, to an extent, Jack Jewsbury and you can start to see where things went wrong. There's even been quite a bit of questioning of John Spencer and his tactics. The man went from hero to zero in about 12 weeks...

Luckily, things are starting to look up. While the Timbers are, once again, looking for that fabled road win we keep hearing is all the rage these days, they're really improving at home where they haven't lost an MLS regular season game since April 7th."

more after the jump:

2) While the Timbers have been fairly solid at home, they are just 0-5-2 on the road with just 2 goals scored and 11 goals allowed, what is it that is causing the Timbers to struggle so much on the road?

A) "Your guess is as good as mine. You can see it when they walk out on the field for an away game. There's something missing. That spark. I don't like to admit it because it's actually a really bad thing for the team, but I think the Timbers Army and the boisterousness of the stadium in Portland has a very profound impact on the team. They just can't seem to find the same level of energy when they hit the road.

I will say this though: as much as the Timbers stunk out loud against the Colorado Rapids last Saturday and there's no definitive excuse for that, I wonder if the combination of the high altitude and humid heat were playing their part in the game's outcome. Fact is, Portland is a low-lying river city with a very mild climate during the spring and early parts of the summer. They're just not able to train in extreme conditions as often."

3) Kris Boyd has joined the Timbers and leads them with 5 goals, Darlington Nagbe had a coming out party against RSL with 2 goals back in March but only has added one more so far this season, where do you think the Timbers offense will come from if they are to pick up a result at Rio Tinto Stadium? Who can step out of the shadows and make a name for themselves on Saturday?

A) "Right now, the goals kind of come from all over. While I wish the Timbers were a team that had the goalscorer similar to Chris Wondolowski, the fact is they don't. Sometimes it will be Kris Boyd. Sometimes it will be Darlington Nagbe or, more recently, Danny Mwanga. More often than not that goal is coming from whoever is just in the position at the right time. We saw Jack Jewsbury get his first goal last Tuesday against the San Jose Earthquakes, and David Horst notched one, almost two, against the Seattle Sounders a couple weeks ago.

My hope for tomorrow night's match is that we'll see more of a partnership building between Mwanga and Boyd. We've seen flashes of it, but the two have really only had a couple games to get a firm partnership going. The fact is that Mwanga plays as a withdrawn striker and Boyd plays as a poacher. The two should be great with each other and I'm hoping we can finally see them link up against RSL."

4) Predicted starting line up?

Troy Perkins; Kosuke Kimura, David Horst, Hanyer Mosquera, Steven Smith; Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsury (c), Eric Alexander; Danny Mwanga, Kris Boyd

So there you go a good look inside the mind of a Timbers fan and blogger, if you want to check out my answers to Geoff's questions jump over to Stumptown Footy.

Also just a word that if you want some fun on Friday night a friendly gathering of Supporters of both RSL and the Timbers will be taking place at the Republican, you can check out the details on facebook, look forward to seeing you there.