The Portland Timbers arrive in the Five Boroughs sporting a record identical to that of their gracious hosts: 1-2-3.
Uneasy as ya like.
As both teams attempt to bounce back from hard-luck losses -- each surrendered goals in the final five minutes of the ninety -- they may do so with main attraction David Villa relegated to the sideline. According to Brian Lewis of the New York Post, the Spanish star man was only a partial participant in training on Saturday, and is doubtful the match.
As of this posting, Villa has not been officially ruled out, but at the back of the formation, center back piedra Jason Hernandez is confirmed as unavailable with a calf issue
That means another opportunity for Jason Kreis to shuffle the squad once again: Thursday night's new-look lineup, which featured the attack-minded Javier Calle at left fullback and rookie gazelle Khiry Shelton at right wing, enabled New York City's most energetic, cohesive first half in more than a month.
Despite that disappointing draw against Philadelphia, New York City reached one important milestone: they scored a goal without David Villa on the field. Add in Mix Diskerud's return to the team following a brief intermission with the U.S. squad, and it's more than evident that Jason Kreis still has plenty to work with.
Shelton may have been playing ball at Oregon State University less than a year ago, but he'll have another chance to make a major impact, especially if Villa isn't available for selection. El Capitan's potential absence also presents an opportunity for one of NYC's other young strikers, Tony Taylor or Patrick Mullins, to slide into the starting XI alongside Adam Nemec.
For the Timbers, last weekend's 2-0 home defeat to Orlando City will likely force gaffer Caleb Porter to make changes. Jack Jewsbury, who replaced George Fochive in central midfield at halftime, brought a level of vision and class that the club had lacked. For his efforts, Jewsbury projects as a starter for today's game.
The narratives are juicier than our favorite member of Three 6 Mafia. Let's dive right in!
New York City:
OUT: Jason Hernandez (calf strain), George John (knee)
QUESTIONABLE: Shay Facey (adductor strain), David Villa (hamstring strain), Josh Williams (adductor strain)
OUT: Michael Nanchoff (sports hernia recovery)
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
New York City:
HOW TO WATCH
New York City FC vs. Portland Timbers
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
April 19, 2015
5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT (Watch on Fox Sports 1 / Listen on WFAN)
To find Fox Sports 1 on your cable dial, CLICK HERE.
RUNNIN' THE NUMBERS
- 5: New York City have only surrendered five goals this season, but three came in the 86th minute or later.
- 8: Since 2013, the Timbers have won eight games immediately following a loss. They have lost two in a row just twice over that span.
- 12: NYC's average number of crosses per game, which is the lowest rate in MLS. Seven teams are producing more than twenty crosses per game.
- 1st: Tonight's game is the first east-coast appearance by the Timbers this year.
- 40: The number of years since a Portland Timbers squad played a game in the Five Boroughs. The proto-Timbers side from the original North American Soccer League defeated the old New York Cosmos 2-1 on July 16th, 1975 at Downing Stadium on Randall's Island. It was the first Timbers match ever broadcast on television.
- Portland manager Caleb Porter on his team's disappointing performance last week: "Usually you can see it coming; I didn’t see it coming. Obviously coming off our first win, we were confident. Sometimes you can see it a little bit in training, a bit casual, and that wasn’t the case."
- NYC goalkeeper Josh Saunders on his team's improved first half effort on Thursday against Philadelphia: "We fixed the quick start. I thought we played very well in the first half, we had a lot of good chances. We just have to be a little more efficient in the final third and in the defensive third late."
- Porter on Jack Jewsbury, who came off the bench to replace the struggling George Fochive last weekend: "Jack brings a little more possession and positional sense... [W]e felt he would be able to organize things a bit better in the middle with his experience and be able to read the game, but also we weren’t keeping the ball as well as we needed to."
- Thursday goalscorer Mehdi Ballouchy on New York City putting the pieces together as a new team: "I think if we replicate that performance over however many games we have left, I think we’ll be in a good position."
- Oregon State University product Khiry Shelton, who made his first professional start in NYC's Thursday night draw: "I did everything in my power to try to get a win for the guys today, but I was unlucky with the chances I had, but it will come over time."
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