Timbers prep for Open Cup semis
As frustrating as the ending to Sunday's match was for the Portland Timbers, might losing on a stoppage-time penalty kick give the Timbers a little extra jump for Wednesday's Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal?
"There's a bad taste in our mouth the way the game finished. But we have experience and know these kinds of situations will happen," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said Tuesday.
"We're excited that we get to play them again on Wednesday. Everybody is very high in their mentality preparing for this match and doing the proper rest and recovery to make sure we can be as good as we want to be, knowing it's going to be another difficult game."
That game starts at 5 p.m. PT and will be streamed on ESPN+.
The winner advances to the championship match of the 106th edition of the annual U.S. Soccer national championship tournament.
If Portland wins, it will be on the road for the Aug. 27 title game, visiting Atlanta United.
This is the second time the Timbers have reached the semifinals. They fell 2-1 at Real Salt Lake in 2013.
Portland's 10 Open Cup wins since 2013 equals Sporting Kansas City for the most over those seven years by an MLS club.
This game comes on a quick turnaround after Portland and Minnesota United slogged their way through a Sunday match in 90-degree temperatures, with MUFC winning the league contest 1-0 on Ethan Finlay's controversial PK.
It is a stroke of fortune, though, that the opponent and stadium are the same on Wednesday, giving the players time to recover without needing to get on a plane.
"The fact that it's going to be a night game, it's going to be better (conditions)," Savarese said. "We have to take into consideration that it could go further than 90 minutes. We have to be smart the way we go about it."
Savarese said it also helps that his team played on the Allianz Field grass on Sunday and was going to train there on Tuesday.
Minnesota United figures to have a fresh Darwin Quintero in the lineup. The forward sat out Sunday's match because of yellow card accumulation. He has scored five Open Cup goals this year.
"He can create opportunities on his own. Very mobile. He can find spaces inside the box and provide different options for them," Savarese saqid. "He's a quality player. He will bring some different challenges we will prepare for. And the guys know him very well as well."
History would indicate that Open Cup matches are more end-to-end affairs than MLS competition. Minnesota has scored 13 goals in its three most recent Cup wins. In beating Seattle and both Los Angeles teams to reach the semis, Portland has outscored opponents 7-1.
It will be interesting to see how much lineup rotation each coach makes from Sunday's MLS clash, especially with a home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps on deck Saturday for Portland.
Among the attacking options for Savarese are Jeremy Ebobisse, who came off the bench on Sunday, Tomas Conechny, Andy Polo and Dairon Asprilla. Midfielder Renzo Zambrano, along with Polo and defenders Zarek Valentin and Claude Dielna, were unused subs who dressed for Sunday's game.
Savarese said defender/midfielder Bill Tuiloma is healthy and that it was his decision to keep him out of the 18 players available on Sunday. Tuiloma started 11 consecutive matches before suffering an injury in the June 1 home opener and has played only two MLS minutes off the bench since the injury. Julio Cascante has stepped into the starting center back job alongside Larrys Mabiala.
There is no radio coverage of Wednesday's game.
• The Timbers have acquired a 2020 international roster spot and $62,500 in 2019 general allocation money (GAM) from D.C. United in exchange for $212,500 in 2019 targeted allocation money (TAM).
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.