Geoff Gibson joins us this week from Portland's own Stumptown Footy -
1. Donovan Ricketts is quietly moving up the goalkeeping stats table. Is he returning to his LA Galaxy peak form which seemed to be missing until lately?
It certainly does look like it, though I would say it's still a tad early to say for certain. I think the biggest difference between now and 2010 is that he's been able to stay healthy. He was injured so often in previous years that just as he was getting healthy and back in top form, something would happen and he would have to start the process over again. I think if he can maintain his health, get to the summer transfer window, we could see him at an even better form than he is in right now.
2. How has the first part of the season gone for MLS coaching new-comer Caleb Porter? How would you grade his performance so far, A - F?
Porter has done an amazing job retooling this squad to fit his Porterball style of high possession, high passing accuracy, and high attack. So far this season we've seen an incredibly turn around for the team's fortunes and I largely attribute that to Porter's coaching. He's able to get the very most out of his team by playing them in situations where maybe even they didn't know they would succeed.
It's tough to grade him right now because, well, the season isn't complete, but if it did end today he would have to be a B+. Of course even that seems a bit unfair because so much of this season has just been getting guys to gel and work together.
3. El Trencito (Jose Valencia) was a big signing for Portland last year but was immediately put out of commission having to undergo knee surgery. Now that he has made a few substitute appearances this season, do you see him working to become a crucial part of the Timbers squad in the future?
Absolutely. It was unfortunate that he missed nearly all of last season (he came on for a reserve game at the end). I think it will be awhile yet before he starts seeing regular minutes. To be honest, the center forward position is just a little stacked at the moment. Ryan Johnson and Frederic Piquionne will be battling for that spot this year. In a year or two, however, I think we'll see Valencia start to really shine. He's still a young guy regardless, he's got plenty of time to work his way into a starting position.
4. The Timbers have added a few new faces (and a few familiar faces to Caleb Porter) since the new coach took over. Who could make an impact on Wednesday's match that Dallas fans may be unfamiliar with?
Well you can't ignore Diego Valeri in the midfield. He's the Timbers' creative attacking force. While not every goal will stem directly from him, he's usually the root of it, so to say. He's also scored a couple times himself, both of which were just a delight to see.
Aside from Valeri, Rodney Wallace has been the biggest surprise this season. After starting the 2011 season as a left back and missing much of the 2012 season, Porter has slotted him into the left winger position where he's been instrumental in the attack. I hope you guys feel confident in your right back situation because he's going to be a problem.
5. Predicted starting lineup?
Donovan Ricketts; Jack Jewsbury, Futty Danso, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington; Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, Diego Chara; Darlington Nagbe, Frederic Piquionne, Rodney Wallace
Thank you, Geoff!
Be sure to leave comments and then go check out my answers over at the Stumptown Footy blog here.
What are your predictions? Think FC Dallas can hold on to the unbeaten streak?