Preview: Portland expected to move into playoff place with win against San Jose tonight

The Portland Timbers face up against the San Jose Earthquakes for the second time in five days tonight, with the Timbers just one point behind Vancouver in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

San Jose’s hopes of somehow getting into the playoffs were officially ended by the Timbers in Portland’s 2-1 comeback win at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday night, but they will hope to spoil the party in Portland by winning their first game at Providence Park tonight.

However, San Jose has not won in eleven games, and Portland are expected to win the third and final meeting between the two this season, following a 3-3 draw in Portland back in July, before Saturday’s win in San Jose.

The Timbers will welcome back Diego Valeri after he was suspended for Saturday’s game, and the Argentine playmaker is crucial for Portland as he has eight goals and ten assists this season.

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Goals are expected in this one, as Portland has seen at least three goals in their past seven matches, while both side’s have scored in five of the last six meetings between the pair.

A Portland win will put them two points ahead of Vancouver, and they will occupy the final playoff spot with two games to go, though Vancouver will have a game in hand after tonight as the race for fifth place looks set to go down to the wire.

The Timbers will face Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas in their final two games, with both sides currently ahead of Portland.

San Jose could field a youth-filled side in Portland tonight, and the fact that they have nothing to lose in this one means it could be quite a goal-fest.

Key stat: San Jose have failed to win in their last eleven MLS matches

Key player: Diego Valeri – The Argentine’s return from suspension should lift Portland and he could be in for another big night as the Timbers look to move into a playoff position.

Prediction: Portland 3-1 San Jose


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