Competition: Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United
Venue: Providence Park – Sunday, May 14th – 16:00 ET (21:00 BST)
Match Odds: Portland 7/10 – Draw 14/5 – Atlanta 100/30
Portland Timbers welcome Atlanta United to Providence Park for their first ever MLS clash on Sunday night, with both sides looking for three points to lift spirits after disappointing runs of form.
Both Portland and Atlanta started the season in great form and have proven to be two of the most entertaining sides going forwards when on song. However, they both enter the weekend off the back of poor away losses and need to pick back up quickly.
The Timbers have only won one of their last four and picked up just one point from back-to-back road trips to Dallas and San Jose. A return home should give them a platform to get back to winning ways but they will need Diego Valeri back as they’ve struggled in his absence.
Valeri has missed the past two games with a hip injury but is listed as ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game and therefore could make a welcome return. If he isn’t healthy, the Timbers will need to dog dip to pull a win out the bag.
Atlanta arrive at Portland off the back of a disappointing 3-1 loss at NYCFC, in which they paid the price for two lapses in concentration in quick succession during last weekend’s game at Yankee Stadium.
Tata Martino is learning about the league with each game, while his players are still adapting to his tactical demands. They have shown glimpses of real quality but need to now perfect their game plan week by week.
It’s tough for any expansion side to succeed when they come into MLS but Atlanta’s job has been made even more difficult after playing six of their first nine games on the road. A great start to life in Major League Soccer only raised expectations but they must now work on finding some consistency.
Sunday’s game in Portland offers Atlanta a really tricky test but they do have back-to-back home games against Houston and New York City FC coming up so they will look to take something promising into those fixtures with a solid result here.
Diego Valeri could make his return from a hip injury here. He is listed as ‘questionable’, along with fellow playmaker Darlington Nagbe, who is nursing a hamstring strain. Gbenga Arokoyo and Chance Myers are definitely out, while the same applies to Jack Gleeson and Ben Zemanski.
Josef Martinez is still out for Atlanta, who desperately need to get their pacey striker back as soon as possible. Jacob Peterson will also miss out again as he continues to deal with a leg injury.
Portland Timbers’ form: W/L/W/D/L
Atlanta United’s form: D/L/W/L/L
Key Stat: Portland and Atlanta are the two leading scorers in MLS so far this season, coming into the weekend, having netted 39 goals in 19 games between them.
Key Player: Fanendo Adi – With or without Valeri, Adi will need to make himself a real nuisance for the Atlanta defence on Sunday if the hosts are to prevail. He has scored six goals and added two assists in nine games so far.
Portland Timbers 3-1 Atlanta United – We’re expecting goals in what should be an open and entertaining contest between two of the league’s most attacking sides on Sunday. Both need to win after poor losses last week but the home advantage gives Portland a major edge and they should be able to get the job done in front of their own fans.