Soccer returns to Portland. On the eve, we have a last gasp of baseball complaining about MLS requiring the city to have a soccer only stadium. I'm not one to be quick to praise MLS but they deserve major credit for how they handled their end of the Portland expansion. You can watch it unfold either on ESPN 2 or tune in online at ESPN360.com at 10:00 PM CST. If you want giddy unbridled enthusiasm, check out Stumptown Footy's Match Day Thread and the rest of the website.
One thing that bothers me is Seattle fans were complaining about Diego Chaves flopping and Geoff Gibson with Stumptown has been giving him a bad rap for that too. I'm going to have to watch Chaves more closely. Perhaps I'm just being a homer but I haven't seen any great offenses in that area. The lineup tonight is difficult to predict because we have the Los Angeles Galaxy coming to town on Sunday afternoon. By the time the team is settled back in Chicago tomorrow, it will be 48 hours until game time all over again. If I had to guess the lineup, right to left: Sean Johnson; Jalil Anibaba, Dasan Robinson, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares; Bratislav Ristic, Logan Pause, Daniel Paladini, Marco Pappa; Dominic Oduro, Diego Chaves. Start that lineup and on Sunday CDLC could start an entirely fresh midfield/forward group of Patrick Nyarko, Marko Maric, Mike Videira, Davis Paul, Gaston Puerari, Orr Barouch. David Beckham, Juninho, and Landon Donovan will be out for the LA Galaxy so maybe we'll see a full squad tonight. Carlos was holding his cards close to his chest yesterday when people asked him about who he will rest.
I think Chicago will take this game as long as Sean Johnson plays at a level he played at last year and Portland doesn't score early. If the team can keep the Timber adrenaline down, the Fire have the more powerful reinforcements to outlast the expansion squad. I'm predicting a 2-1 Chicago victory. I think there's 3 points coming home.