San Jose Earthquakes versus Portland Timbers preview: Three questions with Stumptown Footy

Wondolowski and crew will try for their fourth straight win when the face the struggling Portland Timbers

What’s that? The San Jose Earthquakes are leading the pack in the hunt for the 2012 Supporters Shield? Yes, you read that right. And the Earthquakes are taking talents to Portland to keep alive their three-game MLS winning streak.

To better know the Timbers, Quake, Rattle and Goal shared time with SB Nation’s Portland blog Stumptown Footy. Good stuff from them, and three questions from them to QRG can be read here. Enjoy!

Quake, Rattle and Goal: The Timbers experienced a high in their home win against Seattle, but then go to Colorado and put together anything but their best performance. Is this team a Jekyll-and-Hyde team at and away from Jeld-Wen, or are the inconsistencies due to more than that?

Stumptown Footy: The one rule we can seemingly figure out for the Portland Timbers is that they come up big against teams they're expected to lose against. When everybody expected league leaders Sporting KC to come in and bring home an easy three points the Timbers came up really big. Same for the Seattle Sounders. Of course, with soccer anything can happen.

The thing is that the Timbers are still very much a home mentality fans. It's not as difficult as it was last year when the Timbers Army were new and perhaps a little more intimidating, but they arguably play a better game at home than on the road.

QRG: Kris Boyd was touted as the offensive difference maker for the Timbers going into the season, but his output to date has been fairly pedestrian. How much of that is due to his capabilities and how much is due to lack of teamwork within the Timbers offense?

STF: Lack of teamwork. No doubt about it. You can see Boyd's talent when he gets the ball to his feet, but that happens so rarely with this team. I'm not sure who's fault it is, but the fact that he Timbers are so keen on sending in these floating headers to Boyd in the box makes no sense. He's a target striker who's good with his feet. He's got a decent head on him, but he's not particularly tall enough to out-jump the league's ever growing center backs.

Really what is lacking for Boyd to be a true top-tier striker in this league is a creative element in the midfield that will feed him the chances he needs. The Timbers are currently generating no scoring chances from the center midfield and it's really beginning to show.

QRG: When the 2012 MLS schedule was announced, Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop made special note of how success on the team's six away trips to the three Cascadia teams would be very important to the team's fortunes. How have the Timbers fared in conference so far in 2012, and is the impetus to win elevated when the Timbers host conference foes?

Not well, unfortunately. The team, fans and indeed owner had set a high goal for 2012 after narrowly missing the 2011 play offs and it would be an understatement to say that everybody is disappointed right now. But with a game in hand on every other Western Conference team and as many as 2 and 3 games in hand on the two conference leaders I suppose they're not out yet. But that make or break point is coming very soon.

STF: Obviously, when playing against conference rivals the expectations are much higher. As far as we're concerned, playing Eastern Conference teams is just about the three points. Nothing more. They don't affect our play off picture and, as such, don't really matter on the large scale. Western Conference teams, however, are far more important in that they directly affect each other's standings. Last Sunday was an extremely important game for the Timbers. A win would have seen them elevated to where Colorado was in the standings, but a loss (as is what happened) saw Colorado jump three points farther ahead in the standings making the job all the more tough.

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