MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers

Competition: Major League Soccer – FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers 

Venue: Toyota Stadium – Wednesday, May 11 – 21:00 ET (02:00 BST)

Match Odds: FC Dallas 10/11 – Draw  13/5 – Portland Timbers 3/1

Match Preview

FC Dallas play host to MLS Cup holders Portland Timbers in the first of both sides’ two fixtures this week, with as many as eight teams having a double gameweek to deal with.

Dallas come into the game in a barren run of form, having lost three matches on the bounce. The loss of their captain Matt Hedges has been highlighted as one of the many issues currently affecting the Texan side but results need to start improving quickly, regardless.

Oscar Pareja’s side will want to avoid dropping any more points as they are still a side capable of winning the Supporters’ Shield. However, they are now three points adrift of Colorado, who have played a game less in the West. Another defeat on Wednesday could see that difference increase and Dallas will be desperate to bounce back in front of their own fans.

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Portland Timbers defied all odds to win the MLS Cup last term but their form this season is the polar opposite to their stellar postseason display of 2015.

It is without question that the Western Conference is far more competitive than the East but you would still expect Portland to challenge for a playoff place, despite sitting in ninth as it stands.

To highlight the differing levels of competitiveness, Portland’s 12 points would see them sit in fifth place if they played in the East.

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That being said, Portland have had injuries to key players throughout the season so far as Liam Ridgewell and Darlington Nagbe have both spent time on the sidelines. Portland have the tools to go far this season and potentially win MLS Cup again, so long as they can keep their key players consistently on the field.

This will be the second meeting between these two clubs this season. Dallas ran out 3-1 winners in Portland a month ago and are looking for a third-straight regular season win against their Western rivals.

Team News

FC Dallas are missing midfielder Alex Zendejas and Matt Hedges through injury. Zach Lloyd and Walker Zimmerman are expected to start in defence. Goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez left Saturday’s game in Toronto with an injury after all three subs had been used, with Ryan Hollingshead finishing the match in goal. Chris Seitz will expect to start if Gonzalez remains out. Fabian Castillo will return to the starting lineup after coming off the bench on Saturday.

Portland Timbers are without defenders Andy Thoma and Alvas Powell through injury. Goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey has torn a ligament in a finger so Jake Gleeson will take the gloves once again. Jack McInerney will be competing with Darren Mattocks for a start in attack.

Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: W/W/L/L/L

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

Key Stat: FC Dallas are undefeated in their last 12 home matches in MLS.

Key Player: Fabian Castillo – The winger has been quiet as of recently and with Dallas looking to end a run of three-straight losses, Castillo will need to be influential from the outset. He has the ability to change a game in a flash and Dallas need him to step up as they look to bounce back.

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Score Prediction

FC Dallas 1-1 Portland Timbers – FC Dallas are unbeaten at home this season and Portland are inconsistent, so logic would suggest Dallas will win. However, with three losses on the bounce, we expect this to be a tough test for Dallas and the points could well be shared come the end of Wednesday’s contest.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Philadelphia Union

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Philadelphia Union

Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday, April 2 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)

Match Odds: Chicago Fire 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – Philadelphia Union 12/5 

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host Philadelphia Union on Saturday evening following the international break, with the home side still in pursuit of their first win of the season.

Life under new coach Veljko Paunovic has started slowly but he has installed a new system, and with it, a stronger defensive work ethic which should start to yield results sooner rather than later.

Paunovic also trusts his younger players, proven by the fact rookie Brandon Vincent has played every minute so far in a wing back role and seems to be settling in well.

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Only time will tell how well the Fire adapt under their new boss but three points will be expected on Saturday.

Philadelphia Union have started 2016 with two impressive wins after an opening day defeat at the hands of FC Dallas. Since then they have managed to defeat Columbus Crew 2-1 away from home, before blowing away New England Revolution 3-0 before the international break.

Much of their early success is down to the consistency of new recruits Chris Pontius and Keegan Rosenberry who have fit in well thus far. CJ Sapong is providing a good platform for the team to build on in attack and Jim Curtin will be delighted with what he has seen to this point.

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Things are looking up for the Union who still have Maurice Edu to come back into the fold later in the season, and who knows, they could be pushing for the playoffs come September.

These two sides met three times last year, with each winning once. The most recent meeting saw the pair play out an exhilarating 3-3 draw in Philadelphia, though Chicago won the lone meeting at Toyota Park 1-0.

Team News

Chicago Fire will be without Patrick McLain, while Sean Johnson and David Accam are both doubts but should be fit enough to make the squad come kickoff.

Philadelphia Union are still without Maurice Edu for the foreseeable future. Tranquillo Barnetta, Vincent Nogueira and Cole Missimo are all doubts but will hope to recover in time to feature.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s form: L/D/D

Philadelphia Union’s form: L/W/W

Key Stat: Chicago are unbeaten in six-straight MLS meetings with the Union. A run that stretches back to August 2013.

Key Player: CJ Sapong  The Union striker has been in excellent form early on this term and has played a crucial part in recent wins, scoring twice last time out against New England. We expect this form to continue in what is certainly a winnable game for Philadelphia.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-2 Philadelphia Union – Chicago are yet to register a win this term, while Philadelphia have won two on the bounce. We’re expecting the Union to edge this one, but a very open and exciting match could be played out at Toyota Park on Saturday evening.

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Sunday, March 13 – 16:00 ET (21:00 ET – Live on Sky Sports)

Match Odds: New York City FC 29/20 – Draw 5/2 – Toronto FC 7/4

Match Preview

New York City FC open their 2016 home campaign against Toronto on Sunday evening, with both sides entering the second week looking to make it two wins from two.

NYCFC won 4-3 at Chicago Fire last weekend, winning an exciting game thanks to their young attacking stars. New head coach Patrick Vieira will have been worried by the defensive display however, knowing that if they concede three goals against other MLS sides they won’t be picking up many points.

City were unbeaten in all three games against Toronto last year, winning two and drawing the other. However, they will need their key players available such as Frank Lampard and David Villa if they are to keep that streak going this time out.

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Toronto started their season last week with an impressive counter-attacking display against the Red Bulls, where they beat the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners 2-0 at Red Bull Arena.

The counter attack, as mentioned above, is of course spearheaded by 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco, which provides a clinical edge. The basis for the style has, however, been built from the back with new additions Clint Irwin, Steve Beitashour, Drew Moor and Will Johnson bolstering Toronto defensively and providing a firm platform for Giovinco to shine.

We are expecting Toronto to have more possession this weekend and with that Michael Bradley should play a more pivotal role. Rookie winger Tsubasa Endoh should see more of the ball on the flank after an encouraging debut last week.

Toronto players celebrate scoring vs the Red Bulls (Photo by Ashley Marshall)

Toronto players celebrate scoring vs the Red Bulls (Photo by Ashley Marshall)

Team News

New York City FC are still without Connor Brandt and Jack Harrison through injuries. Jefferson Mena and RJ Allen are both doubtful, though Frank Lampard could feature if he overcomes a calf problem.

Toronto FC are still missing Clement Simonin with a knee injury. Jozy Altidore is still doubtful, but could feature despite his hamstring problems.

Key Points

New York City FC’s form: W

Toronto FC’s form: W

Key Stat: New York City FC were the only team in MLS to concede over 25 goals at home in 2015. They shipped a total of 31 goals at Yankee Stadium last term.

Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – The Italian produced the goods last week by snatching three points form the Red Bulls. He will be relishing the prospect of facing a vulnerable NYCFC defence here and could quite easily produce a hat-trick.

Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC 2016

Score Prediction

New York City FC 1-3 Toronto FC – As good as Toronto were defensively last week, this NYCFC side has goals in it. However, keeping Giovinco and co. out should prove too difficult for Vieira’s men and the away side look primed for success in New York for the second-straight week.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs New England Revolution

Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs. New England Revolution

Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Sunday, March 6 – 15:00 ET (20:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Houston Dynamo 11/8 – Draw 23/10 – New England Revolution 2/1

Match Preview

Houston Dynamo kick off their 2016 MLS season by welcoming New England Revolution to BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday.

The Dynamo are entering their second season under head coach Owen Coyle and will hope to improve on last year’s eight-place finish in the Western Conference.

During the offseason they lost former captain Brad Davis and Giles Barnes will take over the responsibility for 2016. He will hope to lead his side to victory in Sunday’s home opener.

With the worst defence in the West last season, Coyle will want his backline to remain tight early on and a few clean sheets early in the season could set the tone for what is expected of a traditional Coyle side.

Houston Dynamo’s 2015 record: P34 – W11 – D9 – L14

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During preseason, New England dispatched of the Dynamo 2-1 at home, with Scott Neumann and Teal Bunbury bagging the goals. So they have that positive mental boost going to BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday.

They finished last season poorly with only one win from their final five games so a good start will be high on the priority list for Jay Heaps’ men.

New England Revolution’s 2015 record: P34 – W14 – D8 – L12

Losing Jermaine Jones will undoubtedly have hurt them as he was a vital player in their midfield. Despite Jones leaving, the Revolution still have the attacking assets to trouble even the best of teams, and the Revs will expect to compete high up the Eastern Conference this season.

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Team News

Houston Dynamo’s new signing, Collen Warner, who was traded from Toronto, is out of Sunday’s game. Will Bruin and Giles Barnes should start upfront judging by preseason selections.

New England Revolution have no injuries of note as yet. Teal Bunbury and Kelyn Rowe are expected to occupy the wings while Lee Nguyen will play centrally. London Woodberry could start at right-back and Charlie Davies is set to be preferred to Juan Agudelo upfront.

Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s preseason form: D/W/L/W/D/L/D

New England Revolution’s preseason form: W/L/L/D/D/W/W

Key Stat: Houston Dynamo have only lost one of their last ten home matches in Major League Soccer.

Key Player: Lee Nguyen – Attacking midfielder Nguyen is a creative specialist in the final third. He is easily the Revolution’s best player when on song and will prove important to their season once more in 2016. As a prevalent source of chances, keeping Nguyen quiet will be Houston’s priority.

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Score Prediction

Houston Dynamo 1-2 New England Revolution – After the win in preseason, we’re expecting much of the same for New England. Houston will have problems keeping out the likes of Lee Nguyen and Charlie Davies and might just fall short in an intriguing home opener. The home fans will need to rally behind their side to increase their chances of victory here.