NICK LEYDEN - Friday, November 4, 2011
Oguchi Onyewu should return to the lineup and help Sporting begin a new winning streak, while Tony Taylor and Caleb Patterson-Sewell will take part in a first versus last matchup against Portimonense.
Sporting CP - UD Leiria
After watching their nine game winning streak come to an end from the bench in Thursday's Europa League defeat to Vaslui, Gooch and several other Sporting regulars will likely return to the starting lineup against Leiria on Sunday .
Onyewu, who has become a fan and media favorite in Lisbon, sat out the game in Romania as a precaution to give him extra time to rest and recover from injury.
Sporting have won their previous two games in the Estádio José Alvalade by a combined score of 9-1 and will hope another win can pull them closer to Porto and Benfica, who both sit three points ahead of the Lions on the top of the standings.
Leiria has been an all or nothing team so far this season, having not tied a single game. Three shutout victories, including one against Braga, have been outweighed by six defeats in which they have conceded multiple goals.
If healthy, Onyewu and Joăo Pereira are expected to regain their starting spots in the back, while Domingos Paciencia will likely insert Ricky van Wolfswinkel back into his customary starting role as the center forward.
Portimonense SC - Atlético CP
Meanwhile, league leading Atlético will travel to the Estádio Municipal de Portimăo to take on last place Portimonense on Saturday.
Backstopped by former New York Red Bull Caleb Patterson-Sewell, the visitors will hope to continue a three game shutout streak and retain their position at the top of the Liga Orangina.
The men from the Algarve are not your typical cellar dwellers, however, and will certainly provide Atlético a challenge.
It will be a matchup of strength against strength, as Patterson-Sewell and the Atlético defense will try to shut down a potentially dangerous attack.
Just a season ago Portimonense was rubbing elbows with Portugal's giants in the first division, and much firepower remains. The attacking trio of Naman Traoré, Rafa and Simmy have scored three goals apiece to go along with three more goals from team captain and veteran defender Ricardo Pessoa.
This likely means that there will be extra pressure on Tony Taylor and the rest of Atlético's offense, as they have managed to score more than a single goal just twice in eleven league and cup games so far this season.