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Match Preview: Portland Timbers

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Big beards and Diego Valeri come to Stade Saputo as the Impact look to show the league that they're more than the sum of their parts

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend the Impact return to regular season action against the Portland Timbers. Champion's League was fun, beating Toronto is always a good time, but part of me really hopes we get to re-live Hassoun Camara's bicycle kick of 2013 against Portland just one more time. Moments like that are what made that MLS season so exciting.

Either way, with 4 games in 11 days, the Impact are going to have to pace themselves, and Portland will be the first obstacle of that challenge. Maybe we can distract them by telling them Portland craft beers are considered low-quality here, and that beards and flannel are normal in Québec? Or we could just beat them in soccer...

Where can I watch?

Stade Saputo preferably - Tous au stade, remember! Seriously, get off at Pie-IX (it's one stop before the stadium, but you get to walk along the gardens) and go buy a ticket at the gates. It's cheap, no more than 35 bucks. Do it. If you can't make it, RDS will broadcast the match in French on television, but it's a poor substitute for being there. TSN690 will air the match in English on the radio as well.

What's on the line?

Motivation. A hot streak. Winning the hearts and minds of a city that for a month went soccer crazy. A win here will solidify their support behind us and prove that we are a legitimate contender.

The opposition:

Portland is a competent team, and they often give Western Conference powerhouses like Seattle and Los Angeles a run for their money. However, whenever I think of Portland (having never been there) I think of this:

Hopefully, we prove that the 90's are finally over, or at least that this video is not a representation of the Portland soccer team. Also, we should probably watch out for Diego Valeri, who is to Portland what Piatti is for us. He is the star of that team, and is a constant threat.

Probable Starting XI:

Keeper: Evan Bush
Defenders: Eric Miller, Laurent Ciman, Bakary Soumare, Nigel Reo-Coker
Midfield: Dilly Duka, Eric Alexander, Ignacio Piatti, Andres Romero
Forward: Dominic Oduro, Jack "Flying Leap" Mac

If I have learned anything from Wednesday's game against Toronto it's that Oduro and JackMac together is a great combo. Also, was it just me, or does Eric Alexander have awesome footwork? I also learned that Alexander can provide service to Oduro, who can cross for JackMac, which means everyone is creating chances, and everyone is happy. I guess we're going 4-4-2 now. I have my issues with that formation, and prefer the 4-2-3-1, but if JackMac keeps making flying leap shots from good service, or we keep winning, I'll keep my mouth closed.

Keys to victory:

Shut down Diego Valeri, and rely on the defence to limit the chances. Portland have absolutely no finishing ability, so if we limit their chances we can keep the score down, and hopefully get a result. We will need to rely on speedy crosses into the box for our forwards to exploit, and hopefully, finish. Basically, park the bus and counter (again).

Prediction:

2-1 Montréal. I can't explain why, just a feeling.