Timbers-Toronto FC Preview
The Portland Timbers have undergone a bit of a makeover during a disappointing season, but not every move has been popular among the fan base.
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts hopes to prove any doubters wrong when he makes his Timbers debut Wednesday night against Toronto FC as the league's worst teams square off in Canada.
Timbers owner Merritt Paulson fired coach John Spencer on July 9 and named general manager Gavin Wilkinson interim coach for at least the rest of the 2012 season.
Wilkinson has since made moves in an attempt to help Portland (5-12-5) get out of the Western Conference cellar, including trading popular keeper Troy Perkins to Montreal for Ricketts.
The franchise received some backlash from its fans for that deal, but the newly acquired two-time All-Star hopes to show that Portland made the right move.
"You don't expect to be taken in immediately," Ricketts told the team's official website. "I'm not here to take anything away from Troy, he did a lot for this club, and it's good the fans love him. That shows you have a loyal support, and hopefully I play into their hearts and it's the same. So I wish Troy all the best there is, and I'm a Timber now so I'm looking forward to my experience here."
Wilkinson also dealt left back Mike Chabala to D.C. United on Thursday and signed 22-year-old New Zealand international Ian Hogg to replace him.
"We had the opportunity to bring in a young left back to put him in an environment just to see how he does," Wilkinson said. "It gives us a chance to look at somebody in that position for next year."
The Timbers haven't played since a 1-all draw with FC Dallas on Aug. 5 and are 0-5-1 during a season-worst winless streak. The break has left them plenty of time to prepare for a match against the lone MLS team with fewer points.
Toronto (5-13-4) has been off since a 2-1 loss to Chicago on Aug. 4 after its match scheduled for Saturday against Columbus was postponed due to the death of Crew midfielder Kirk Urso.
Defender Logan Emory received two yellow cards in the loss to Chicago and will be suspended for Wednesday's contest. Fellow defenders Dicoy Williams (Jamaica) and Doneil Henry (Canada) will be representing their respective countries in friendlies.
Richard Eckersley and Ashtone Morgan will be the only regular starting defenders dressed, with Adrian Cann and Ty Harden likely filling in the other spots.
The 21-year-old Morgan has made quite an impression on coach Paul Mariner.
"I think he's been on top of his game," Mariner told the team's official website. "He's had different partners in front of him and he's coped so, so well. I think he has been one of our most consistent players this season."
Toronto went 1-0-1 versus Portland in 2011 - the Timbers' first season in MLS.