Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers
Venue: Toyota Stadium – Saturday, April 29 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)
Match Odds: Dallas 7/10 – Draw 13/5 – Portland 15/4
FC Dallas host the high-flying Portland Timbers on Saturday night in a hotly anticipated battle between the Western Conference’s top two sides.
Dallas are two points behind Portland at the top of the standings coming into Week 9 but have played two games less than Saturday’s opponents.
Oscar Pareja will be pleased with his team’s unbeaten start to the 2017 season. They boast an 4-0-2 record after six games and look in a strong position to retain the Supporters’ Shield this season.
Their 1-0 win over Sporting KC last week kept up their 100% home record this season and they will be looking to leapfrog Portland with another win in front of their own fans here.
The Timbers have been solid through their opening eight games but still look vulnerable at the back, with injuries doing little to help Caleb Porter pick a consistent backline.
Portland beat Cascadia Rivals Vancouver 2-1 last weekend but that was just their second win in five – a demonstration of how inconsistency could see them falter this term.
Fanendo Adi will return from suspension this weekend but Diego Valeri is ruled out and that will leave Timbers supporters seriously concerned as he has been their standout player by some distance this campaign.
These sides met three times last season, with Dallas completing a league treble over the Timbers. Portland’s last regular season win in Dallas came in 2014 but they’ve only won two of their 11 trips to Toyota Stadium.
Dallas remain without Mauro Diaz but the good news for FCD fans is that the playmaker has returned to training and won’t be far away from a return. Chris Seitz is expected to miss out again with a hamstring injury.
Portland will be without Diego Valeri after he was stretchered off in last weekend’s clash with Vancouver. Jake Gleeson is also ruled out along with Ben Zemanski and Gbenga Arokoyo.
FC Dallas’ form: D/W/D/W/W
Portland Timbers’ form: L/D/W/L/W
Key Stat: Fortress – FC Dallas have won their last six home games in MLS and will be looking to keep their 100% home record going this season.
Key Player: Kellyn Acosta – The Dallas midfielder has been excellent so far this season, scoring as many goals in five games (2) as he did in 34 last term. He will look to break up play in midfield and prevent Portland from driving forward.
FC Dallas 2-0 Portland Timbers – It’s tough to see Portland winning at Dallas without Diego Valeri. His loss could prove pivotal as Dallas look to go top of the West on Saturday night. The home side look a real force at home and have only conceded one goal in three games in Frisco so far and they should keep their strong form going here.