Competition: Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers vs. FC Dallas
Venue: Providence Park – Wednesday, April 13 – 22:30 ET (03:30 GMT)
Match Odds: Portland 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – Dallas 5/2
Caleb Porter’s side haven’t won since their opening day victory over Columbus. They will be desperate to end their four-game winless run here against a strong Dallas outfit.
The 2016 MLS Cup champions haven’t dealt well with the pressure of trying to defend their title so far, but there is plenty of time left to turn their poor start around. They have two home games in the space of four days to try and climb the Western now, with San Jose visiting on Saturday night.
One plus for Portland is that they are still a real force on home soil. They have picked up four points from their two home games so far and are now unbeaten in six at Providence Park.
FC Dallas have yet to win in Portland but will be confident of changing that record here. Oscar Pareja’s team have only lost one of their first six games and come into this one unbeaten in four.
Back-to-back home draws will have left supporters slightly disappointed, although Dallas remain at the top end of both the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield standings, sitting just one point behind Sporting Kansas City at this stage.Embed from Getty Images
A win on Wednesday night would move them to the top of the standings, though they will have played two games more than their nearest challengers.
This is a key battle between two clubs that entered the season with very high expectations. It may only be April, but this is a big game for both.
These two most recently met in the Western Conference Final of the MLS Cup Playoffs back in November. Portland advanced to the MLS Cup Final following a 5-3 aggregate win over two-legs.
The Timbers beat Dallas 3-1 in the home leg in November and also won by the same scoreline during the regular season meeting at Providence Park.Embed from Getty Images
Portland are likely to be without Darlington Nagbe for Wednesday’s game after he was on the wrong end of a horrendous Nigel De Jong tackle on Sunday night. If he misses out, he will join Ben Zemanski, Liam Ridgewell and Andy Thoma on the sidelines.
FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja may name an unchanged side to the team that drew with San Jose on Saturday. Mauro Diaz is expected to miss out again, while Alex Zendejas is sidelined with a pelvic problem.
Portland Timbers’ last five: W/L/D/L/D
FC Dallas’ last five: L/W/W/D/D
Key Stat: Portland have yet to lose a home game against FC Dallas since joining MLS in 2011 (P7 W5 D2).
Key Player: Fanendo Adi – The powerful Nigerian striker has been a shining light through a dark spell for the Timbers. He has four goals in five outings and has scored three of those in Portland’s only two home games so far. Expect him to be a dangerous attacking threat from the outset.
Portland Timbers 2-1 FC Dallas – This is set to be a hard-fought battle between two of the league’s strongest sides. Portland have struggled so far but they are a force at home and need the win here more than Dallas. That should see them pick up three points, though it won’t be easy. If Mauro Diaz misses out for Dallas once again, it will be tough to see them leaving Portland with a fourth win of the campaign so a home win is looking likely.