The Story So Far
The Timbers are coming off a crushing of Hollywood dreams as they beat the LA Galaxy with a 4-0 scoreline in U.S. Open Cup play. Everything was coming up roses as the Timbers put the Galaxy in the rear view. Brian Fernandez scored another goal, and have another taken away in favor of a Perry Kitchen own-goal. Not to be left out, Sebastian Blanco added a complete stunner in the 37th minute. The Timbers would stay ahead for sure with a Jorge Moreira goal in the 82nd minute.
But for now it’s time to put the U.S. Open cup on the back burner (they’ll face LAFC next round) as the Houston Dynamo come to town. The Timbers have had a lot of success at home against the Dynamo, so they’ll be hungry for three points, especially after they fell short against LAFC in their last MLS match.
Speaking of the Open Cup, the Houston Dynamo were bounced out of the competition on their kiesters by the Loons of Minnesota. Houston got the first two goals of the match thanks to Ronaldo Pena and Tomas Martinez but it was all downhill from there. Minnesota United scored three unanswered goals to take home the victory.
Keep in mind the last time these two teams met it ended in a 1-1 draw and we saw the debut of Brian Fernandez who bagged his first MLS goal. Can the Timbers use home cooking to get past the Houston Dynamo and start their climb up the table or will Houston play spoiler and take all three points?
What To Watch For
Houston Dynamo (7-3-3, 24 pts)
The Dynamo are coming off a U.S. Open Cup loss, but in MLS play they’re just around even in the last six matches going 2-2-2, which, while not bad, is below expectations of Coach Wilmer Cabrera and his team. I’ve provided the lineup they used against SKC to get a sense of the formation that Wilmer Carbra uses and personnel.
Despite coming off a loss, the fan base seems to think that basement dwellers are ripe for the picking. History isn’t on their side coming into Providence Park, the Dynamo are 1-1-5 lifetime in Portland, and have been outscored by the Timbers 15-9. So, historically they’ve got a bit of a hill to climb.
I would suspect that Cabrera will put as close as a first choice eleven as possible, but with players missing due to Copa America and the Gold Cup, there might be a bit of rotation, but they fielded a younger mixed squad on Wednesday night. So don’t expect too much, and no way do they have the squad that they had against Sporting Kansas City in their last MLS match.
Players to keep an eye on are Tomas Martinez coming at you from the number ten spot, he makes things go in the midfield and has two goals and assist on the season. The big goal getter for the Dynamo is Mauro Manotas he leads the team with six, and in the midfield Alberth Elis leads the team in helpers with five - but he’s gone on international duty.
Portland Timbers (4-7-2, 14 pts)
After Gio Savarese’s interesting substitutions Wednesday night, I’m not sure what to expect for a lineup on Saturday. Not having Andy Polo around is a bit of a hitch in the giddy up as he could really be used right about now, same goes for Andres Flores. Here are the players that went a full 90 on Wednesday night (excluding Steve Clark): Claude Dielna, Jorge Moreira, Larrys Mabiala, Diego Chara, Jeremy Ebobisse, Sebastian Blanco (cannot play) and Brian Fernandez. Oh, and Christian Paredes went all but 90 minutes, clocking 84 minutes for before being substituted off.
That’s a lot of a first choice starting eleven that would have to go on short rest, someone is going to have to. I suspect we’ll see a center-back pairing of Cascante and Tuiloma. Zarek Valentin will most likely start for Moreira and could we see a Marco Farfan start at left-back? It’s in the realm of possibilities, that’s for sure.
Even though Diego Valeri got a 12 minute run out (can anyone explain this to me? Up by four, should have stayed on the bench) he will no doubt get the start in the midfield, and he’s had great success against the Dynamo. It’s defensive mid that’s got me a bit worried. I mean Diego Chara is a madman and I swear part robot sent from the future, but do you start him on short rest? If this was any other team, I’d say probably not. But this is the Dynamo; a western conference foe, and someone needs to help shut down the front three of Houston.
I’m pretty sure that Gio will toss a coin before first kick, or maybe even use a dart board to select which goalkeeper we’ll see between the pipes. It might be Attinella, as Clark got the start midweek, at least that’s my line of thinking. But this is Gio’s mind we’re talking about, and I’m really not sure what goes on up there.
Saturday’s match marks the 16th meeting in MLS regular-season play between Houston and Portland. The Timbers are 5-1-1 all-time at Providence Park against the Dynamo, outscoring Houston 15-9 in those matches. Portland has won three consecutive matches at home against the Dynamo, including a 2-1 win in the last match between the two sides at Providence Park on July 28, 2018. In the all-time regular-season series, Valeri has recorded six goals and five assists.
Houston have been losing at both half time and full time in their last 3 away matches (Major League Soccer).
Houston have lost their last 3 away matches (Major League Soccer).
Portland have scored at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 home matches against Houston in all competitions.
The Timbers broadcast team of Jake Zivin, Ross Smith and Nat Borchers won an Emmy Award in the Sports – Play by Play/Analyst category from the Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), it was announced recently at the 56th-annual Northwest Regional Emmy Awards Ceremony.