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Match Preview: Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls

JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Ore.
March 3, 2013 (WEEK 1, MLS Game #8)
4:30 p.m. PT (ESPN2; ESPN Deportes)

An intriguing interconference matchup kicks off the new season when the Portland Timbers play host to the New York Red Bulls at Jeld-Wen Field before an ESPN2 audience. Both teams are led by new coaches – Caleb Porter having taken over the reins of the Timbers, while former New York defender Mike Petke is now in charge of the Red Bulls. The Timbers are looking for their first trip to the postseason in their third MLS season, while the Red Bulls are coming a third consecutive year where their season ended in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.


REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): Frank Anderson; JAR (opposite): Adam Garner; 4th: Fotis Bazakos
MLS Career: 144 games; FC/gm: 24.1; Y/gm: 3.1; R: 32; pens: 44


ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Red Bulls 2 wins, 8 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 5 goals … Ties 1
AT PORTLAND (1 meeting): Red Bulls 0 wins, 3 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 3 goals … Ties 1

8/19: NY 3, POR 2 (Cooper 43; Cahill 45; Pearce 83 – Dike 8; Nagbe 32)
•    This is the only league meeting between the teams this season.
•    The only result the Timbers have gotten against the Red Bulls came at Jeld-Wen Field in their inaugural season, a 3-3 draw. The Red Bulls have won the last two meetings.
•    Coaches record: Caleb Porter vs. NY: first game… Mike Petke vs. POR: first game

The Portland Timbers kick off their third MLS season with a new man in charge, Caleb Porter having taken over the head coaching reins with Gavin Wilkinson moving back upstairs to his general manager post after guiding the club over the second half of the season. The Timbers are looking for their first appearance in the MLS Cup Playoffs, finishing eighth in the Western Conference a season ago.

WATCH: The Scouting Report on the Portland Timbers

•    The Timbers closed out their preseason schedule with a 1-1 draw with Sweden’s AIK in the final match of their Portland Preseason Tournament at Jeld-Wen Field. Michael Harrington scored the lone Portland goal, hitting for the equalizer 15 minutes from time.
•    Here’s the Timbers team: Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Miller, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Dylan Tucker-Gangnes, Michael Harrington, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, Will Johnson, Kalif Alhassan, Ryan Johnson (Frederic Piquionne, 70), Darlington Nagbe (Jose Valencia, 84)
•    The Timbers ended their preseason slate with a 3-2-2 record.
•    “We have a group of guys who aren’t going to quit this year,” Porter said. “If we’re not playing good soccer, we’re going to fight. I always believe that you cannot always be the best soccer player on the field, but there’s no excuse for not being the hardest working and being a team that is very difficult to beat.”
•    If there is a concern, it’s in the back, where Porter ran out second-year man Andrew Jean-Baptiste and rookie Dylan Tucker-Gangnes in central defense.
•    “There are certainly a lot of things we need to continue to correct and sort out,” he said. “There were moments in the game, even when we were completely on top of that team, where they hit us on the break and we have to make sure we’re a little more tight in the back at times.”
•    The backline could be shored up with the addition of Mikaël Silvestre, who is expected to be available for selection for the season opener.
•    The Timbers also signed midfielder Michael Nanchoff, a one-time first-round SuperDraft selection by Vancouver Whitecaps FC, who played for Porter at the University of Akron. Nanchoff joins another former Akron midfielder in Ben Zemanski, acquired from Chivas USA. They’ll presumably add depth behind starters Will Johnson, Diego Chará and Diego Valeri.
•    “They’re playing with a lot of swagger, a lot of confidence and a lot of mental toughness,” Porter said. “Boy, when we get going and when we’re playing Portland Timbers football, it’s fun to watch. It’s the tip of the iceberg, and that’s what’s scary. I think this team can be a really special group.”


IN: DF Michael Harrington (12/3/12 - trade from Sporting KC); MF Will Johnson (12/3/12 - trade from Real Salt Lake); FW Ryan Johnson (12/12/12 - trade from Toronto); GK Milos Kocic (12/12/12 - trade from Toronto); DF Mobi Fehr (12/18/12 - weighted lottery); MF Steven Evans (1/8/13 - Homegrown); MF Diego Valeri (1/10/13 - loan from Lanús); DF Ryan Miller (1/21/13 - transfer from Halmstads); DF Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (2/6/13 - SuperDraft); MF Ben Zemanski (2/13/12 - trade from Chivas USA); MF Michael Nanchoff (2/13/12 - trade from Vancouver); DF Mikaël Silvestre (2/20/13 - first right of refusal from Seattle); MF Franck Songo'o (2/27/13 - waived); DF Chris Taylor (2/27/13 - waived)

OUT: MF Freddie Braun (11/19/12 - option declined); MF Charles Renken (11/19/12 - option declined); DF Ian Hogg (11/19/12 - option declined); DF Kosuke Kimura (12/3/12 - traded to New York); DF Eric Brunner (12/3/12 - traded to Houston); MF Lovel Palmer (12/3/12 - option declined); DF Steve Purdy (12/3/12 - option declined); DF Steve Smith (12/6/12 - option declined); GK Joe Bendik (12/12/12 - trade to Toronto); FW Robbie Findley (1/16/13 - rights traded to RSL); FW Mike Fucito (1/17/13 - trade to San Jose); FW Kris Boyd (2/1/13 - contract terminated); MF Eric Alexander (2/11/13 - trade to New York)

The New York Red Bulls open the Mike Petke era looking to make a return to the MLS Cup Final, where they reached now five years on. It’s been consecutive trips to the MLS Cup Playoffs over the last three seasons, but a quarterfinal exit each time. The long-time MLS defender Petke takes over for Hans Backe, who guided the club to each of those results.

WATCH: The Scouting Report on the New York Red Bulls

•    The Red Bulls concluded their preseason campaign with a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution on Saturday night in their last match of the 2013 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. Lee Nguyen (4) and Jerry Bengtson (36) scored for the Revolution.
•    Here’s the Red Bulls team: Luis Robles, Kosuke Kimura, Jamison Olave, Digao, Roy Miller, Eric Alexander (Dax McCarty 74), Tim Cahill, Ruben Izquierdo (Jonny Steele 83), Juninho, Fabian Espindola, Thierry Henry
•    “Our goal was to end preseason on positive note and, this is probably the only time you’ll hear me say this after a loss, but we ended on a positive note,” head coach Mike Petke said. “We were all over them.”
•    Fabian Espindola, acquired in a trade with Real Salt Lake in the offseason, partnered Thierry Henry in attack. Juninho Pernambucano filled an attacking role on the left with Tim Cahill providing drive from the center of the park.
•    “The real positive side is how much we created, how much those guys influenced what we did as a team after going down 2-0, not hanging heads, pushing everybody on,” Petke said. “To us, that was a big turning point in preseason.”
•    Petke came into the preseason looking to rebuild the back four – a work that is still in progress. “I have an idea of what I’d like to see, but I have yet to see it,” Petke said. “There are a lot of questions still to be answered. I like competition within positions, and on the backline, we certainly have some spots up for grabs.”
•    The Red Bulls have Heath Pearce, Roy Miller and Markus Holgersson all back, while having picked up Kosuke Kimura (last Portland) and Jámison Olave (last Real Salt Lake) in the offseason. “Olave’s been the player we’ve wanted him to be,” Petke said, “so he’s in a very good situation.”
•    The Red Bulls concluded the Desert Diamond Cup winless in four matches as Petke ran out four different groups on the back line.
•    “We still have some issues extending back a couple years with momentary lapses on defense [and] slow starting on defense,” Petke said. “Guys [are] not willing to get stuck in and, as a defender, that’s the first and foremost thing you need. I’m looking for someone else to step up and that’s why there’s been a couple of changes.”


IN: DF Kosuke Kimura (12/3/12 - trade from Portland); DF Jámison Olave (12/3/12 - trade from Real Salt Lake); FW Fabián Espíndola (12/3/12 - trade from Real Salt Lake); FW Josué Martínez (12/6/12 - trade from Philadelphia); GK Santiago Castano (12/11/12 - Homegrown); FW Amando Moreno (12/11/12 - Homegrown); MF Juninho Pernambucano (12/17/12 - free transfer from Vasco da Gama); MF Rubén Izquierdo (2/8/13 - free); MF Eric Alexander (2/11/13 - trade from Portland); MF Jonny Steele (2/20/13 - first right of refusal from Real Salt Lake); MF Ian Christianson (2/22/13 - SuperDraft); MF Michael Bustamante (2/22/13 - Supplemental Draft)

OUT: FW Jose Angulo (11/19/12 - option declined); FW Jhonny Arteaga (11/19/12 - option declined); FW Corey Hertzog (11/19/12 - option declined); MF Jan Gunnar Solli (11/19/12 - option declined); MF Teemu Tainio (11/19/12 - option declined); DF Jonathan Borrajo (11/19/12 - option declined); DF Stephen Keel (11/19/12 - option declined); DF Tyler Ruthven (11/19/12 - option declined); GK Bill Gaudette (11/19/12 - option declined); GK Jeremy Vuolo (11/19/12 - option declined); FW Sébastien Le Toux (12/6/12 - traded to Philadelphia); DF Rafa Márquez (12/13/12 - released); MF Victor Pálsson (1/4/13 - contract terminated); MF Joel Lindpere (1/4/13 - trade to Chicago); DF Wilman Conde (1/23/13 - contract terminated); FW Kenny Cooper (2/4/13 - trade to FC Dallas)

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