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Storylines: Portland Timbers vs FC Dallas

Home sweet home

Portland Timbers v FC Dallas Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Story So Far

With midweek matches in consecutive weeks, the Portland Timbers had little choice but to field a very young side. The average age that took on Montreal was 24 years old. While the kids played well, the vets on the field didn’t, and the Timbers fell to the Impact. I don’t think the result really surprised anyone; second best team in the east - and put out a stronger side than the Timbers. A point would have been nice, but no such luck.

Now the Timbers return home and are looking to take on an FC Dallas side who are coming off a 2-2 stalemate with the Vancouver Whitecaps. FCD currently sit in fourth place in the Western Conference with 26 points, just one point behind the third place Seattle Sounders. Dallas will be looking to steal some of the home thunder from the Portland Timbers.

The last time these two teams met, it was in April at Dallas where the Timbers lost the match 2-1 and will be looking for a bit of revenge on their Western Conference rival. Will the Timbers pick up where they left off against the other team from Texas? Or will FC Dallas play the spoiler, sneaking out of Portland with points in hand?

What To Watch For

FC Dallas (7-6-5, 26 pts)

FC Dallas vs Vancouver Whitecaps (June 26th 2019)

It wouldn’t surprise me if Luchi Gonzalez rotates his squad Sunday night, as they too played midweek. Dallas is in the middle of a youth movement which seems to be working out for them. So much of a youth movement that the squad average age is 24.12-years-old, which is the youngest in the league. The Timbers, for comparison, average 26.57, which puts the Timbers in the lower half of Major League Soccer.

Gonzalez doesn’t just “play the kids” for the sake of it. According to the FC Dallas coach, these kids are earning their place in the lineup, and it seems to be working. For instance, take a look a the 19-year-old playmaker he’s started at the number 10 position, Paxton Pomykal. He’s a youth international and captain of the USA U20 squad. So far this season, he’s played 869 minutes, with 10 starts and one substitute appearance. He’s tallied two goals and an assist so far and is very dangerous in the midfield.

As noted in the graphic, FCD like to run a 4-2-3-1, though they’ve been known to play a 4-3-3 as well. Look for them to switch to a back three on the attack, with either a fullback or midfielder being that third back depending on the situation. They’ll use possession to pull teams towards them, So look for them to pass the ball back a lot, trying to draw teams out. The goalkeeper plays 6.8% of passes, the seventh highest in MLS.

They love the short passing game and are really good at it, with 89% of their passes being of the short variety. But don’t let that fool you, look for them to mix in some long vertical passes as well with the intent of passing over the opponents midfield. With all the passing they are pretty comfortable with the ball in their own end. Also, look for their attack to be focused down the right side, with an overload from time to time. They’re not afraid to take long shots, so look for them to take some shots from distance, trying to catch the defense off guard.

Jesus Ferreira is another player to keep an eye on. He’s a homegrown player that signed in 2016 and has been working his way into the starting lineup. So far, the 18-year-old Colombian has recorded five goals and five assists in just 14 starts. Additionally, Michael Barrios has always been a thorn in the side of the Timbers, and I don’t see that changing. He has two goals and seven assists in 16 starts this year.

They are currently missing John Nelson to a abdominal strain, Reggie Cannon, Bryan Acosta and Carlos Gruezo are at the Gold Cup. Originally, Cannon wasn’t on the roster until RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams went down with injury.

Portland Timbers (5-8-2, 17 pts)

I don’t think anyone could have come close to guessing the lineup that Gio would put out when the Timbers traveled to Montreal. For a 2-1 loss, the kids played well - it was the veterans who didn’t have a good night.

With the Great Rotation of 2019 over with, the Timbers will field a first choice eleven here. Bill Tuiloma is still out with a thigh injury and no word on his return. So it’s possible either Cascante or Dielna will get the start next to Larrys Mabiala. Three players are listed as questionable at the time of this writing: Zarek Valentin (left thigh injury), Sebastian Blanco (right lower leg injury) and Christian Paredes (illness).

If Blanco isn’t able to go, It’s possible that Marvin Loria will get another start, or Jeremy Ebobisse could take that left side slot where Blanco plays. If Paredes isn’t ready to go, I’d also guess that Renzo Zambrano would get the start next to Chara in the defensive midfield.

This is a one match home stand, next weekend they travel to NYCFC on the 7th of July. Points on Sunday before heading to the east coast (again) would be great. While a win won’t put the Timbers in a playoff spot, they’ll be just on the outside looking in. The team holding down the seventh and last playoff spot is the Loons with 21 points. Picking up a win at home and three points in New York would put them over the line. But let’s not put the cart before the horse, the Timbers need to win the match in front of them.

Log Slices

Portland and FC Dallas square off for the second time this season after FC Dallas (7-6-4, 25pts) recorded a 2-1 win at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on April 13. Sunday’s match marks the 22nd meeting all-time between the Timbers and FC Dallas. Portland has posted a record of 5-1-3 in regular-season contests against FC Dallas at Providence Park, with the Timbers recording a shutout in each of their last two matches against FC Dallas at home.

Fernández has already set another MLS record, after also scoring in the Timbers’ two matches thus far in the U.S. Open Cup, contained within his four-game streak in league play. Fernández is the first player in MLS history to score goals in each of his first six games over all competitions since coming into the league.

FC Dallas stretched their undefeated streak to four games with a second draw in that time, reaching a 2-2 result with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Toyota Stadium on Wednesday evening.

REFEREE: Allen Chapman. AR1 (bench): Eric Boria; AR2 (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Elton Garcia; VAR: Edvin Jurisevic; AVAR: Apolinar Marisca