Winners of their last four games and in control of their playoff destiny, the Portland Timbers (11-12-8) take on the Columbus Crew (9-14-7) away from home in search of another crucial three points.
A Look at the Opposition
The Caleb Porter-led Crew play host to the Timbers in the midst of quite a poor run of form. They come into this game off the back of a 2-1 defeat against Inter Miami, despite marquee summer-signing Cucho Hernandez scoring his ninth goal in just 14 matches since arriving from Watford in July. In fact, Columbus have won just two of their nine matches since the start of August, taking a paltry 11 points from a possible 27 in the process.
Regardless of form, the aforementioned Cucho Hernandez (9 goals, 2 assists), former Timber Darlington Nagbe (3 goals, 1 assist, 92.6 percent passing accuracy), and attacking talisman Lucas Zelarayan (9 goals, 10 assists) are a handful for any team and the Timbers’ backline will need to perform well if they want to keep those three quiet.
At the other end of the pitch, the Crew will be without their club captain and best centerback Jonathan Mensah after the Ghanaian suffered a hamstring injury down in Florida.
Timbers Team News & Outlook
Coming off of their 1-0 win against Minnesota United last Saturday the Timbers have no new injuries to report. However, they will be without standout centerback Zac McGraw who will miss the match against the Crew through yellow-card accumulation suspension. Since the shift to three-at-the-back, McGraw has been one of the Timbers’ best players and integral to the four-game win streak. Expect Larrys Mabiala to be reinstated into the starting XI in McGraw’s absence.
The Timbers have no new injuries ahead of Sunday’s matchup with Columbus. The only players missing will be Felipe Mora (knee) and Zac McGraw (YC accumulation). #RCTID— Ryan Clarke (@RyanTClarke) September 17, 2022
The Timbers find themselves 6th-place in the Western Conference on 45 points, level with Minnesota United in 5th and two points ahead of Real Salt Lake in 7th. Perhaps more importantly, the lowest the Timbers could drop with a loss against the Crew is 7th due to the LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders being five and six points behind them respectively, despite both clubs playing one game fewer. But if other results across the league go their way, the Timbers could finish the weekend as high as fourth in the West, a scenario that would require a Portland win as well as Minnesota and Nashville dropping points.
Despite controlling possession in the 1-0 win against the Loons, the Timbers sustained heavy pressure and were the second-best team for large portions of the match. But at this point in the season, you take a win any way you can get it, and if you offered me another nervy 1-0 win prior to the match I’d snap your hand off.
That being said, I think the Timbers might be in store for a similar game. Columbus haven’t been very good over the last month-and-a-half, but they do have dangerous game-changers throughout their lineup. But Mensah is a big loss for Columbus and I’m confident in Portland’s ability to utilize pace and set-pieces to cause the Crew damage.
So I’m going for another 1-0 win courtesy of yet another Dairon Asprilla goal.
Colombia Connection @daironasprilla x #RCTID pic.twitter.com/jHSI3LAySV— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) September 11, 2022
You can’t stop us, we are the Rose City.