FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers: USOC Preview

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas and Portland square off for the second time this month.

The quarterfinals of the 2013 US Open Cup kicks off tonight as FC Dallas hosts the new MLS league-leaders Portland Timbers.

Both teams were busy over the weekend in MLS as Dallas hosted Sporting KC to the tune of a 2-2 draw while Portland played on Sunday in a 3-0 win over the Colorado Rapids.

Recapping the last round

Dallas advanced in the fourth round of the USOC thanks to a big win over rivals Houston Dynamo. Kenny Cooper scored two goals and Zach Loyd added the third.

Portland went through the fourth round thanks to a 2-0 win over NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Quick Scouting of Portland

It is like we just saw them huh? Portland comes into town on a 15-game unbeaten run in league play and are doing well outside of the league as they've advanced this far in the US Open Cup. But they also have had some quick turn arounds to deal with too in the schedule. This will be their 8th game of the month and third in three days.

Figuring out who Portland will go with tonight is a bit of a toss up. Mamdauo Fotty Danso looks to be a sure bet to start in the middle of the defense since he was held out of Sunday's win over Colorado. Michael Harrington on the other hand likely isn't 100% to start on the flanks.

Will Johnson and Diego Chara have logged a ton of minutes as of late while Diego Valeri has been held out of some matches. Will Caleb Porter go with all three? I doubt it, I just don't see all three of them going the full 90 in this one though it wouldn't shock me to see them all on the field at some point in this game.

Up the field we'll almost certainly see FC Dallas-killer Darlington Nagbe. Porter would be a fool not to start him in my book, given how well he has done against Dallas in his career.

Lineup projection for Portland

Donovan Ricketts; Ryan Miller, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Futty Danso, Jack Jewsbury; Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Ben Zemanski; Darlington Nagbe, Ryan Johnson, Rodney Wallace

Lineup projection for Dallas

The five internationals rule for the US Open Cup makes thing interesting for Schellas Hyndman. With that, we'll likely see a couple changes to what we saw on Saturday against Sporting KC.

Chris Seitz; Zach Loyd, Walker Zimmerman, George John, Jair Benitez; Michel, Andrew Jacobson, Jackson, Fabian Castillo, Ramon Nunez, Blas Perez

Keys to advancing

Dallas has to keep things simple and in their own offensive end to win this game. Portland has the talent and skill to be be very dangerous and seeing as how they won't have another league match to deal with for a couple weeks, they can likely pull out all the stops in this one.

I think the wide game is key for Dallas. Obviously this will be the first game against Portland that Hyndman will have a fairly healthy attack and he could easily choose to go with David Ferreira over Ramon Nunez. But with the weekend looming, I think Nunez is a good fit to throw a curve ball at Portland. Nunez also showed very well late in the game on Saturday against Sporting KC.

Defensively, Dallas will have to do a lot of what they did in their last meeting with the Timbers. Stay in front of their attacker sand find ways to eliminate the passing lanes. Portland loves to possess the ball as much as possible and they certainly will get their chances. Where Dallas can capitalize on that is on the counter. Kenny Cooper, Blas Perez and Jackson need to have big games up front for this to work.

(Keep it here for the latest on this match, we'll be providing a live-match thread tonight!)

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