MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Portland Timbers
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Saturday, March 25 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT) 
Match Odds: Columbus 21/20 – Draw 5/2 – Portland 23/10

Match Preview

Columbus Crew welcome Portland Timbers to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night for the first time since the 2015 MLS Cup Final in which the visitors left Ohio with the title.

The Crew will be out for revenge this time around as they look to make it back-to-back wins after getting off the mark for the season in last weekend’s 2-0 victory over DC United.

Gregg Berhalter used three at the back in that win and he is likely to stick with the system in the hope the wing-backs can keep Portland pinned back in their own half.

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On paper, this is set to be a really tough game for the Crew but the Timbers have a number of key absentees, giving the hosts a great chance of picking up three important points in front of their own fans.

Portland have looked unstoppable going forward through the first three weeks of the season, winning all three games to start the season and scoring 10 goals in the process.

They have bounced back well after a disappointing campaign last year and Caleb Porter will be aiming at winning another MLS Cup title come December. There’s a long way to go but the Timbers have everything in place to go and challenge across the board this season.

They will have to try and get the job done this weekend without Darlington Nagbe and David Guzman, who are both away on international duty, while center-back Liam Ridgewell is still out due to injury.

That leaves the away side significantly weaker but they still have the firepower of Fanendo Adi, Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco and that trio will look to hurt Columbus, especially if they opt to go with a three-man defence again.

These sides met once last season at Providence Park back on the opening day of the campaign with Portland winning 2-1. The Timbers have now won three-straight games against the Crew, including that MLS Cup final victory.

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Team News

Columbus remain without Gaston Sauro, who is ruled out for the season, as well as Dilly Duka who is struggling with a calf contusion. Waylon Francis is a doubt once again and Jukka Raitala is away on international duty with Finland.

Portland will travel to Columbus without Darlington Nagbe and David Guzman, who are both away on international duty, while Liam Ridgewell is still out and Gbenga Arokoyo is sidelined for the season. Vytas is a doubt but could start at left-back if passed fit in time.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s form: D/L/W

Portland Timbers’ form: W/W/W

Key Stat: The Timbers have won three-straight games against the Crew and have not lost to their opponents since July 2013.

Key Player: Diego Valeri – Despite the absences of some key men, Portland still have their star man available and in red hot form. Valeri has started the season with four goals and two assists and is looking dangerous everytime he gets on the ball. If Columbus fail to contain him, they could be in for a long evening.

Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 2-2 Portland Timbers – Goals are expected here between two sides that will believe they can get all three points on Saturday night. Columbus are the home side and looking to make it back-to-back wins. They should take advantage of some key absences for Portland but will likely struggle to contain the likes of Valeri and Adi in what should be an open and exciting game. Score draw.



MLS Cup Final Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Portland Timbers

Competition: MLS Cup Final – Columbus Crew vs. Portland Timbers

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Sunday, December 6 – 16:00 ET (21:00 ET)

Match Odds: Columbus 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – Portland 12/5

Match Preview

It’s here. The 2015 MLS Cup Final between Columbus Crew and Portland Timbers will cap off the campaign in fine style on Sunday night as East meets West at the MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus.

It looks set to be one of the most unpredictable MLS Cup finals in recent memory and both sides will feel they have a genuine shot at success on Sunday evening.

Columbus come into the game as Eastern Conference champions after beating the New York Red Bulls 2-1 over two legs in the last round. They have earned the right to host the final as a result of their goal difference to Portland’s and will hope home comforts can see them lift a second title in their 21-year history.

Columbus Crew’s 2015 MLS record: P38 – W17 – D8 – L13

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Portland will be looking to spoil the party though. The Timbers travel to Columbus as Western Conference champions after a fine two-legged performance against FC Dallas, advancing 5-3 on aggregate.

They have a formidable away record in MLS this year and will hope their first ever MLS Cup Final appearance can be a successful one in what is just their fifth season in the league.

Portland Timbers’ 2015 MLS record: P39 – W17 – D11 – L11

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Caleb Porter’s side will look to score early on Sunday. They haven’t lost a game when scoring first all season and will be able to silence the crowd if they get the go-ahead strike in this one.

This will be just the seventh meeting between the two sides. They are equal in every aspect based on previous meetings as both have won two, drawn two and lost two, scoring and conceding six goals each.

WATCH: 2015 MLS Cup Final Preview Show

Team News

Columbus Crew manager Gregg Berhalter has just one injury concern as Kristinn Steindorsson will miss out again. Other than that the Crew have no concerns and are likely to remain unchanged for the final.

Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter will be sweating on the fitness of two of his key men in Liam Ridgewell and Fanendo Adi. Both are doubts but should be passed fit to play. Ben Zemanski is definitely out as he continues to recover from his ACL injury.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/L/W/W/L

Portland Timbers’ last five: W/D/W/W/D

Key Stat: Portland Timbers have won more away games (8) than any other MLS side in 2015.

Key Player: Kei Kamara – The Columbus Crew striker can single-handedly decide a game if he is at his best and the home fans will be desperate to see the powerful forward carry the Black and Gold to MLS Cup success in this one.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 1-2 Portland Timbers – This looks set to be one of the most unpredictable MLS Cup finals in a while between two of the league’s most entertaining sides. We should be treated to goals in Columbus on Sunday night but Portland might just stun the Crew by becoming champions.

MLS Cup Final set as Portland prepare visit to Columbus

We’re down to the wire. After a long and entertaining season, the 2015 MLS Cup Final will crown a new champion as the Columbus Crew will host the Portland Timbers at MAPFRE Stadium next Sunday night.

The Timbers will take part in their first ever MLS Cup Final after beating FC Dallas 5-3 on aggregate to become Western Conference champions last night. They have won more away games than any side in MLS this year and will need one more to lift the title in Ohio.

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That won’t be an easy task against a Columbus side that eliminated Supporters’ Shield winners New York Red Bulls 2-1 on aggregate over two legs.

The Crew fell 1-0 in New York last night but were able to edge through, thanks to their outstanding performance in the first leg at home.

Columbus have won their last three home games in total. But their last defeat came against Portland.

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The Timbers won 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium at the end of September in the only meeting between the two this season and that will give the away side confidence as they chase a first ever championship title.

Columbus will be taking part in their second MLS Cup Final after winning the championship against the Red Bulls in 2008.

MAPFRE Stadium will host its second ever final after the 2001 MLS Cup Final between LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes took place in Ohio, with the Quakes lifting the trophy that year.