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Behind enemy lines: Scouting Portland Timbers

MLS: MLS Cup Final-Portland Timbers at Columbus Crew Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Claret and Cobalt will travel northwest to face another Cascadia club, hoping to obtain another 3 points. The defending MLS Cup Champions have some classy players along with familiar faces that are missed among the Rio Tinto faithful. Portland will look to get more points up on the board after dropping last week's road matchup with San Jose 2-1.

MLS: Portland Timbers at San Jose Earthquakes Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports


Between the sticks for the Timbers will be the recently re-called Ghanaian national team member Adam Kwarasey. The defining moment in the shot stopper's MLS career was the standout performance versus Sporting Kansas City in last year's playoff matchup. In the penalty shootout he was able to save two penalties, while burying his own match clinching shot, which in turn led to Timbers MLS glory. After being on the wrong end of a world class chip shot from 30+ yards last week, he will be looking to keep a clean sheet versus Real.

MLS: Portland Timbers at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


The man in the center of defense with the giant orange beard will still pull the heartstrings of many among the Salt Lake fan base. Nat Borchers provided nearly 7 years of service to RSL and is still looking a top MLS center back at the tender age of 34. Borchers' partner in the middle and team captain Liam Ridgewell is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Former Houston Dynamo defender Jermaine Taylor looks to fill in while fellow Jamaican Alvas Powell and Zarek Valentin defend the flanks.

MLS: Portland Timbers at San Jose Earthquakes Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports


A big reason for Portland's late season hot streak was the move of Darlington Nagbe to a more central position. The Timbers play an attacking 4-3-3 formation, in which Nagbe was among the front 3 on the right wing. After being moved to an attacking midfield role alongside Diego Valeri, the whole team including Nagbe, has flourished. Valeri himself is a game changer, so the midfield battle is vital to try and limit their time on the ball and limit goal scoring opportunities. The man who makes this formation possible for Portland is defensive midfielder Diego Chara. He will stay back and look to clean up any counters or attacking play from Real Salt Lake. Former RSL playmaker Ned Grabavoy may also feature as a substitute.

MLS: Portland Timbers at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports


Spearheading the Portland front 3 will be the 6'4 Nigerian, Fanendo Adi. One of the most physical forwards in MLS, it will be a spectacle to see the matchup with Real's own monster: Jamison Olave. This clash of titans will be among the games most intriguing individual showdowns. On the wings will be Dairon Asprilla and Lucas Melano. The latter is a designated player and has had limited MLS experience, but has shown he can create and score goals already in his young career. Both wingers at the ripe age of 23 years old show they have game beyond their years and will look to find any way to feed their beast in the middle.

MLS: Preseason-Portland Timbers vs Chicago Fire Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports