The Portland Timbers have been worrying this week about slow starts, especially in the wake of a loss at New England last week in which they allowed a goal within the first 30 seconds of the game, to make it three straight games in which they have fallen behind.
But coach Jason Kreis doesn't expect that to last.
Heading into his game against them on Saturday, the RSL coach sees a Timbers team that already did a good job getting forward into the attack. But now, it has added a new element in striker Kris Boyd, the all-time scoring leader in Scotland whom the Timbers signed as a designated player this season.
"They've added a little bit of a different dynamic in somebody who can hold the ball up," he said. "It's interesting, because now they can sort of play both ways. They can play to Boyd and lay it back for guys to run on, or they can play directly to those players in behind. So it's an athletic team. It's a pretty direct team. It's a team that's very focused on results at home, playing very directly, making things very dangerous on you and using the crowd to their advantage."
The Timbers are going to debut a new third kit against RSL, hoping to remain undefeated against it. They Timbers beat RSL 1-0 at home last season just days after RSL was agonizingly eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League, then managed a 1-1 draw in the regular-season finale at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Kreis said his team is going to have to have "some calm" to deal with the intense crowd and the likelihood that the Timbers are going to want to come out flying to make up for last weekend.
"You have to recognize that not every game are you going to be dictating the tempo and the flow for 90 minutes," he said. "So that might be a place where you don't get to have your say and you don't get to control the ball as we typically do for the first stretch of the game. And you've got to have the experience and maturity to say, 'that's OK. We'll weather this, and we'll be OK.'"
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