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Storylines: Houston Dynamo vs Portland Timbers

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The Timbers look to shake off the loss in Vancouver and turn things around in Texas.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

Welp, the streak came to an end.

The Timbers dropped points to Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. It only took a Fredy Montero goal nine minutes in to seal the Timbers’ fate. The Portland Timbers need to regroup and head into Houston with focus. To me, the Timbers missed that last “something” to connect; like they were all a half step off. It was a night of wasted chances.

Now the Green and Gold head to Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo, who are also coming off a narrow 1-0 loss — to the Seattle Sounders — on the road. This was the first time that the Dynamo have been held goal-less in 13 matches. I’m sure they’re not going to let that happen again as they too look to regroup and get a win on home soil.

Can the Timbers put Vancouver in the rear view and nab a win in Texas? Or will the Dynamo show the Timbers who’s boss in Houston?

What to Watch for

Houston Dynamo (6-2-1, 19pts)

Houston vs Seattle

This Houston Dynamo team is a legit top three team in the Western Conference and have so far flown under the radar as one of the West’s best teams in 2019. They have the league’s best points per-game average, at 2.11. Their loss in Seattle was only their second of the season. The Dynamo have yet to lose to the Timbers at BBVA Compass Stadium: four wins and four draws — and that includes the playoffs.

Wilmer Cabrera has a well-oiled machine at his disposal, so the Dynamo will likely come out in a 4-2-3-1. Look for Mauro Manotas to be the lone striker up top. He leads the team in goals with five so far this season and is a consistent threat. While Manotas may lead the team in goals, Memo Rodriguez has a .79 goals per 90. That’s four goals so far this season; in comparison, Manotas has a .57 goals per 90.

This is a very aggressive squad. Look for them to push up the pitch, attacking down the left side, which will keep Moreria busy on the right side of the Timbers defense. This team isn’t afraid to shoot on goal — even if the shot is from distance.

They have four players that average just over a shot on target every 90 minutes, so expect them to shoot at every opportunity they have. (They average 14 shots per match.) As you can imagine, they create a lot of chances and are good at finishing them.

It seems they have regrouped since crashing out of the CONCACAF Champions League, finding themselves in fourth place in the West, with games in hand that could propel them to the top of the table. Make no mistake: This is a tough team, and winning in their building is something the Timbers haven’t been able to do — yet.

Portland Timbers (3-6-1, 10pts)

Portland vs Vancouver

The Timbers had their win streak ended by the Vancouver Whitecaps: There’s not much you can do when the other team scores first and then decides to park the bus. The offense just couldn’t find that final pass though the low block.

They will be without the services of Diego Chara, who has to sit this one out due to yellow card accumulation. This is never a good sign for the Timbers, as they have a history of not winning when Chara is out of the starting eleven. Add to that the fact that the Timbers have yet to win in Houston, and it could be a tough road in the Lone Star State. Your guess is as good as mine as to who starts in place of the suspended Chara, though they could move Andres Flores to the DM spot and have Andy Polo start out on the wing.

If everything I’ve read is correct, we could see the Portland Timbers debut of Brian Fernandez. I highly doubt he’ll be in the starting eleven, but he’ll be in the 18, and I suspect he’ll get a 30-minute or so run out. But I don’t think it’s that long before he is in the starting eleven on a regular basis.

Even without Chara in the lineup, I suspect a 4-4-2, which seems to be the formation Gio is rolling with so far this season, along with a consistent starting eleven. Steve Clark seems to be earning every minute he’s played. It looks like at least for now, Clark is our starter.

Look for the Green and Gold to attack down the wings and hopefully create some chances, including crosses into the box to create some opportunities. Also look for them to attack down the middle if the wings are tied up. I would suspect in attacking down the middle, Diego Valeri would actually go just underneath Ebobisse in more of a number ten role. I’m looking for a big things out of whoever replaces Chara in the lineup, though I think like I said above: Flores to d-mid and start Polo out on the wings.

Log Slices

Houston have seen more than 2.5 goals in eight of their last nine matches against Portland in all competitions.

Memo Rodriguez leads the Dynamo in goals and assists per 90 at .99. In contrast, Diego Valeri leads the Timbers in that category with a .68.

The last time these two teams met was September 15, where the Timbers lost 4-1, after going in the lead in the first nine minutes.

In Vancouver, Portland finished the match with 27 shots, setting a club record for most shots in an away match in MLS. The previous high was set on March 2, 2019, when the Timbers had 24 shots in a 3-3 draw against the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

With one more start, Diego Valeri will make his 200th start (regular season and playoffs) for the Timbers since joining the club in 2013.

With his next appearance, Sebastian Blanco will play in his 75th MLS regular season match for the Timbers since joining the club in 2017.

Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees: Brian Poeschel, Gjovalin Bori
4th Official: Rosendo Mendoza
VAR: Malik Badawi