MLS Preview and Prediction: FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo

Major League Soccer: FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo

Toyota Stadium – Wednesday, August 23 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Match Odds: Dallas 4/6 – Draw 11/4 – Houston 15/4

FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo: Preview

FC Dallas welcome Houston Dynamo to Toyota Stadium as MLS Rivalry Week starts with the Texas Derby on Wednesday night. This will be the third Texas Derby of the season but both previous clashes have ended in a draw, so El Capitán is up for grabs here.

As things stand this season’s rivalry series between the two clubs means that Houston are in a position to retain El Capitán. But a win for either side on Wednesday would decide who ends the season with bragging rights.

Dallas are in a bad run of form. It’s the worst stage of the campaign for the wheels to be coming off, but they haven’t won in four, losing three of those. Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Sporting KC leaves them five points off the top.

They are only holding on to a top six spot by two points and know they need to beat Houston to get back on track. Victory on Wednesday would move Dallas back ahead of the Dynamo as we enter the final two months of the season.

Houston have quietly been putting together a good run of form. They’ve not been setting the world alight, but were unbeaten in six before Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Vancouver.

The Dynamo are just three points off league leaders Sporting KC and Seattle coming into Wednesday’s set of fixtures. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2013 but look well on course to do so this term.

 

The worry for the visitors is that they’ve struggled on the road at Dallas for the past six years. They haven’t won at Toyota Stadium since 2011.

The two sides have already drawn their two meetings this season. First playing out a 0-0 at Toyota Stadium back in May before a 1-1 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium a month later.

FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo: Team News

FC Dallas have no injury worries ahead of Wednesday’s derby. Head coach Oscar Pareja is likely to make at least one change after watching his team lose at SKC on Saturday. Dallas also have a trip to Columbus to think about on Saturday.

Houston Dynamo remain without George Malki for the season. Other than that, they have no injury concerns. Alberth Elis will return to the side after serving a suspension at Vancouver on Saturday. Juan David Cabezas and AJ DeLaGarza are suspended as a result of yellow card accumulation. Houston play SKC at home on Saturday, so Wilmer Cabrera may have to rotate his side.

FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo: Key Points

FC Dallas’ last five: W/L/L/D/L

Houston Dynamo’s last five: W/D/D/W/L

Key Stat: Houston haven’t won away at their Texan Derby rivals in six years. FC Dallas have won four of the last six clashes at Toyota Stadium, outscoring the Dynamo 13-4 in that time.

Key Player: Maximiliano Urruti – The FC Dallas striker scored in the 1-1 draw at BBVA Compass Stadium back in June. He hasn’t scored in five but is still Dallas’ leading scorer with 11 this season. The hosts will look to Urruti for inspiration as they look to end their poor run of form.

FC Dallas vs Houston Dynamo: Prediction

FC Dallas 1-1 Houston Dynamo – It’s difficult to see where a winner is going to come from on Wednesday night. There is more pressure on Dallas than Houston here. But that should mean the Dynamo set up to stifle the home side, just as they did in the season’s first meeting back in May, which ended 0-0. FC Dallas have to win the game to take home this season’s El Capitán. But recent forms suggests they won’t have enough to do so.

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Gallery: Exclusive photos from Vancouver’s 1-1 draw with FC Dallas on Saturday

Vancouver Whitecaps battled back to earn a 1-1 draw at home to FC Dallas on Saturday, thanks to Cristian Techera’s free-kick 15 minutes from time, cancelling out Maximiliano Urruti’s opener earlier in the second-half.

The Whitecaps have now gone back-to-back games without defeat for only the second time this season and will hope to keep building momentum when they travel to Minnesota this weekend.

Carl Robinson’s men are in fifth place in the West after the weekend’s result, four behind Dallas in fourth, who have also played one game more than the Canadian outfit.

Dallas have been wobbling over the past couple of months and have only won one of their last seven games, with that coming two weeks ago at home to RSL.

They have a Friday-night clash with Texas rivals Houston up next and will be hoping to stamp their authority down to stay in touch with the leaders at the top of the West.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers John May, Hazel May and Chris Kachanoski.

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MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

MLS Fantasy 2016: What you need to succeed

By Jamie Dawe

Every year the MLS Fantasy minefield blows up anyone who hasn’t fully considered their team selection or their formation. Many people watch their team slide down the leaderboard for the first month while they helplessly panic behind their computer screens. However, there are a few key things you ought to know before you set up your team for this year’s competition.

The New Rules

There are now only 16 players on your roster (rather than 18), but each team still has the same $120.0 budget, meaning you can fill your side with more stars than ever in 2016.

Points are now scored for players who suffer four fouls in a game, for every 35 passes that are completed with 85% accuracy and also for every four shots taken in a game. In addition, defenders and defensive midfielders can score points for clearances, interceptions, tackles and blocks. This will make players like Osvaldo Alonso ($8.5) and Matias Laba ($7.5) even more attractive propositions.

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The Roster

Having two goalkeepers gives you room to have a week-in-week-out starting goalkeeper and also a young up-and-coming ‘keeper who may get game time later in the season. I wouldn’t recommend spending anymore than $11.0 of your budget on the two goalkeeper positions.

Having five defenders gives you the opportunity to splash out on a back five if you’re the kind of manager who likes banking on reliable centre-backs who rack up clean sheets, interceptions and the odd headed goal. Many prefer to use just three defenders, with attacking full-backs becoming increasingly popular too.

The limit of five midfielders now means that building a successful five-man midfield is significantly harder to achieve. However, the increased budget per player could mean that a spend of $45.0 on your midfield may not be terminal.

Four strikers gives you the chance to have at least one low priced striker to make room elsewhere for a big golden boot challenger. Cheap options like Dominic Oduro ($7.5) and Tesho Akindele ($7.5) could become great investments for the season.

The Formation

There’s only one formation I can recommend for the first weeks of the fantasy season and that’s a 3-5-2. In the unpredictable and occasionally maddening league which is Major League Soccer, the only position you can truly rely on is that of the central midfielder. Regardless of the match, quality of the team or the scoreline – passing bonuses are sure to be gained and so I see players like Dax McCarty ($9.0) and Tony Tchani ($8.0) as safe bets for early points. You could also try a 3-4-3 or 4-4-2 if one of your strikers/defenders is likely to play in a midfield role. In my view, any other formation would be complete anarchism before the tone for the season has been set.

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The Must Haves

The increased budget per player has opened up teams to have three or four massive stars in their starting XI. This is why players like last year’s top points scorer Sebastian Giovinco ($11.5) are definitely worth having in your team for the start of the season. Another player along these lines is Ethan Finlay ($10.5), who will also benefit from the new passing bonus points.

However, this doesn’t mean that the most expensive players are always going to be the highest scoring. Strikers like Innocent Emeghara ($9.0) and Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) are sure to get more playing time this season and they are both proven goalscorers. In defence, Dallas’ No. 1 Jesse Gonzalez ($6.0) might be worth an investment as FC Dallas have four home games in their first six. This home start makes Zach Loyd ($7.5) a steal at this value. On the cheaper side, Josh Saunders ($5.0) may suddenly have a less porous defensive line in front of him as NYCFC have dramatically bolstered their defensive options this offseason. Four home games in the first five won’t hurt either.

The Risks

A few players picked in this year’s SuperDraft may go straight into the starting lineup of some MLS sides. For example, Joshua Yaro ($6.0) and Brandon Vincent ($5.0) are bound to get plenty of playing time. Jordan Morris ($8.5) joining Seattle Sounders was possibly the biggest deal of the offseason and it’s anyone’s guess whether he’ll hit the ground running, or whether he’ll take more time to progress. The Colorado Rapids’ biggest offseason signing was Shkelzen Gashi ($9.0), who had been the top scorer in the Swiss Super League for the last two seasons. Whether he can single-handedly turn around the Rapids’ dreadful scoring record, I don’t know. The Rapids also have talented defender/midfielder Marlon Hairston ($5.0) returning from injury, but he might not be thrown straight back into the Starting XI from the outset.

The No-No’s

DC United goalkeeper Bill Hamid ($6.0) will be out for at least the first three months of the season and should be ignored. MLS Cup winners Portland have a new left back in Chris Klute ($7.0) but he could easily miss the first games of the season with a knee injury. Nigel De Jong ($9.0) is a new presence in the LA Galaxy midfield, but he is not known for his scoring exploits and is rather more known for racking up yellow cards, so I personally would wait and see if the new scoring system favours him. Also, for his price and his position as a forward in a fantasy squad Giovanni Dos Santos ($11.0) is probably worth a miss until he settles into his new role on the right side of in the Galaxy side.

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The Best Bench Warmers

Cameron Porter ($5.0) should gain significant value if he gets the playing time he was in line to receive before his horrific injury at the beginning of the 2015 season. Along these same lines, Andre Blake ($5.0) could be a starting ‘keeper for Philadelphia this year – and if he’s given the chance – he could become the best bargain ‘keeper in the league. Hadji Barry ($5.0) could also be given the chance to prove himself in a faster, more fluent Orlando City attack – and if he plays to his potential, his price will skyrocket very quickly.

This is just a brief overview of what can be an extremely in-depth game. However, if I were to tell you anymore of my secrets, there would be no point in picking your own team…

All I can do is wish you luck and may the fantasy force be with you!

Who do you think is an absolute must-have in MLS Fantasy 2016?

MLS Re-Entry Draft XI 2015: Three released Whitecaps feature

By Jamie Dawe

With the first round of the MLS Re-Entry Draft closing in, it would seem an appropriate time to form a side with the best eleven players from the 60 that are eligible for the 2015 Re-Entry process.

Players eligible for the draft must be at least 23 and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience or be at least 25 with a minimum of four years of MLS experience – which makes this group more exclusive and hence why there’s only 60 players available! So, here we go.

GK: Tally Hall – Age 30 – released by Orlando City

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After tearing his ACL in August 2014, Hall lost a starting berth that had been his for four-straight years at the Dynamo. Once he recovered from his ACL injury, Hall found himself in new surroundings in Orlando and quickly became the expansion side’s first choice. However, following another injury blow, the Lions deemed him surplus for their second season in MLS. This two-time MLS All-Star provides an opportunity not to be missed in the draft.

RB: Steven Beitashour – Age 28 – Released by Vancouver Whitecaps

This Californian born Iranian international not only carries tonnes of experience with him, but was arguably one of the most solid right-backs in the league this season. With 27 regular season starts and five assists, he played an important role in the Whitecaps’ second place Western Conference finish. Beitashour will be a solid pick for any side in need of a starting right-back but he won’t come cheap.

LB: Kevin Alston – Age 27 – Released by New England Revolution

Alston has made his name as a solid but speedy wingback since the Revs drafted him in 2009. He’s a solid option at left or right back and is certainly a player who can expect to be drafted early on.

 

CB: Tommy Meyer – Age 25 – Released by LA Galaxy

The second youngest player on this team, Meyer has plenty of time to grow into the starting defender that he’s never been given the chance to become during his four-year spell at the Galaxy. 26 regular season starts relatively evenly spread over the four years show that Meyer has always been on the peripherals of a team that has had some good centre-backs. Meyer is capable of grabbing a spot on the roster of almost any MLS side and will expect to be drafted on Friday.

CB: Pa Modou Kah – Age 35 – Released by Vancouver Whitecaps

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps Pa-Modou Kah Celebrates

The oldest man on this list, Kah is still a viable option as a starting centre-back for at least one more season. Born in Gambia, but a former Norwegian international, Kah knows how to command a back line and even chipped in with three goals for the Whitecaps during the 2015 regular season.

CDM: Jeb Brovsky – Age 27 – Released by New York City FC

The ultimate utility man. Brovsky could have been positioned anywhere across the back line and anywhere in the centre of midfield but holding midfield seems to suit him best. He never quite seemed to settle into his best form in the extremely porous NYCFC defence but he will hope to find another home within MLS now.

CM: Boniek Garcia – Age 31 – Released by Houston Dynamo

At 31, Garcia’s future will surely be in the middle of the park – or possibly in a more attacking central role, rather than out wide. With 12 goals and 18 assists in 89 MLS games for Houston, Garcia has proven what he is capable of and he has to be seen as a viable option for any side looking to pick up a robust option to cover attacking options in midfield.

CM: Mauro Rosales – Age 34 – Released by Vancouver Whitecaps

Rosales enjoyed a solid 2015 season with Vancouver and will be disappointed not to be staying with the Canadian side. The Argentinian midfield enforcer has proved to be a reliable option since moving to MLS in 2011 and will hope his age doesn’t stop a team from bringing him in for the 2016 campaign.

LW: Marco Pappa – Age 28 – Released by Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas  Marco Pappa

Pappa started only half of the regular season games for the Sounders this season, but in that time he managed to contribute three goals and six assists. At 28, he certainly has the ability to contribute to a team for at least another few years as a starting option and carries invaluable playoff experience, having played ten postseason games with the Sounders and Chicago Fire since 2008.

RW: Robbie Findley – Age 30 – Released by Toronto FC

Findley is a capable starter and also a great bench option for most MLS teams. He has 40 MLS goals and 18 assists to his name across eight seasons in the league. Findley can add an injection of pace into any MLS attack and a spark of fear into any opposing backline. He also offers five years of MLS Cup Playoff experience from his time in Real Salt Lake and could prove invaluable to an MLS side looking for attacking reinforcements.

ST: Maximiliano Urruti – Age 24 – Released by Portland Timbers

Urruti is an incredibly gifted forward with an eye for goal and now an MLS Cup Champions medal under his belt. At just 24, Urruti has buckets of talent to offer any MLS side. Urruti has been used predominantly off the bench in Portland, starting only 28 of his 67 regular season appearances, but he’s capable of staking a starting berth in an MLS side – possibly one looking to rebuild with young talent.

These are only 11 of the 60 players available in the draft. Who do you think should be included in this team that’s not listed above and why?

Talented pool of 60 players eligible for Friday’s MLS Re-Entry Draft

With the 2015 Major League Soccer season now officially over, offseason activity can begin, and the MLS Re-Entry Draft could throw up numerous roster changes on Friday (December 11).

The first stage of the Re-Entry Draft will take place on Friday at 3pm ET (8pm GMT) and a total of 60 MLS players are available for selection, including the likes of Marco Pappa, Oscar Boniek Garcia, Mauro Rosales and Maximiliano Urruti.

To qualify for the Re-Entry Draft, players have to be out of contract with their 2015 teams and be either:

  • At least 23 and have a minimum of three years of MLS experience
  • At least 25 with a minimum of four years of MLS experience

Out-of-contract players who are at least 28 years old and have a minimum of eight years of service in MLS are eligible for free agency for the first time ever. There are a total of 26 players eligible for free agency after seeing their contracts expire at the end of the 2015 campaign.

Full list of the 60 players available in the MLS Re-Entry Draft:

GK Joe Bendik (Toronto FC)
GK Josh Ford (Orlando City SC)
GK Tally Hall (Orlando City SC)
GK Alec Kann (Chicago Fire)
GK Chris Konopka (Toronto FC)
GK Matt Lampson (Columbus Crew SC)
GK Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)
GK Brian Perk (LA Galaxy)
GK Donovan Ricketts (LA Galaxy)
GK Paolo Tornaghi (Vancouver Whitecaps)

DF Kevin Alston (New England Revolution)
DF Jalil Anibaba (Sporting Kansas City)
DF Steven Beitashour (Vancouver Whitecaps)
DF Jeb Brovsky (New York City FC)
DF Hassoun Camara (Montreal Impact)
DF/MF Greg Cochrane (Chicago Fire)
DF Leonardo Gonzalez (Seattle Sounders)
DF Tony Lochhead
DF Tommy Meyer (LA Galaxy)
DF Roy Miller (New York Red Bulls)
DF Pa Modou Kah (Vancouver Whitecaps)
DF Lovel Palmer (Chicago Fire)
DF Chris Schuler (Real Salt Lake)
DF Zach Scott (Seattle Sounders)
DF Seth Sinovic (Sporting Kansas City)
DF Bakary Soumare (FC Dallas)
DF Jordan Stewart (San Jose Earthquakes)
DF Jermaine Taylor (Houston Dynamo)
DF Anthony Wallace (New York Red Bulls)
DF Kwame Watson-Siriboe (New York City FC)

MF Carlos Alvarez (Colorado Rapids)
MF/FW Tony Cascio (Orlando City SC)
MF Warren Creavalle (Philadelphia Union)
MF Danny Cruz (Philadelphia Union)
MF Andy Dorman (New England Revolution)
MF Michael Farfan (D.C United)
MF Fred (Philadelphia Union)
MF Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo)
MF Jeremy Hall (New England Revolution)
MF Jackson (Toronto FC)
MF Alex Lopez (Houston Dynamo)
MF Michel (FC Dallas)
MF Michael Nanchoff (Portland Timbers)
MF Lewis Neal (Orlando City SC)
MF Marco Pappa (Seattle Sounders)
MF Mauro Rosales (Vancouver Whitecaps)
MF Matt Watson (Chicago Fire)

FW Jairo Arrieta (D.C. United)
FW Bright Dike
FW Robbie Findley (Toronto FC)
FW Mike Fucito (San Jose Earthquakes)
FW Chandler Hoffman (Houston Dynamo)
FW Antoine Hoppenot (Philadelphia Union)
FW Jason Johnson (Chicago Fire)
FW Danny Mwanga (Orlando City SC)
FW Dane Richards (New York Red Bulls)
FW Charlie Rugg (LA Galaxy)
FW Vicente Sanchez (Colorado Rapids)
FW Gabriel Torres (Colorado Rapids)
FW Maximiliano Urruti (Portland Timbers)

Are you surprised that any of the players available for the Re-Entry Draft did not have their contracts extended?

2014 MLS Season Review: Portland Timbers

Western Conference Final Position: 6th

Review

The 2014 season started slowly and it took Portland nine games to record their first win but they eventually burst in to life. Unfortunately for the Timbers, it all came to an agonising conclusion as they narrowly missed out on the playoffs, finishing in sixth place, just one point behind Vancouver Whitecaps. They are certainly the best MLS team that won’t feature in the playoffs this year and it will be a bitter pill to swallow considering how well they have played at times this season.

Best Moment

Coming from a goal behind to win 3-1 away at Real Salt Lake in June is one of their greatest achievements for 2014. It’s the only home defeat that Real Salt Lake suffered all season and a result they can be proud of.

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Worst Moment

The defeat in Toronto at the end of September is the one that will have hurt them the most and is essentially the result that cost them their place in the playoffs. Having led the game 2-0 at half-time, they will be devastated that they somehow squandered a two-goal lead and lost the game 3-2, thanks to an 89th minute winner from Michael Bradley.

Player of the Year

Diego Valeri has been inspirational for the Timbers. He’s scored 11 goals from midfield and assisted 14. Contributing 25 goals from midfield is very impressive. Maximiliano Urruti is another player who has been in fine form this season, but Valeri has been the main man and has even been discussed as an outsider for the MVP award.

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Biggest Win

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-3 Portland Timbers (August 31 2014)

Portland Timbers 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps (September 20 2014)

Portland Timbers 3-0 San Jose Earthquakes (October 9 2014)

Biggest Defeat

Portland Timbers 2-4 Seattle Sounders (August 24 2014)

What to improve for the 2015 season…

The margin of error in soccer can be so small at times. They will reflect on a good season that will be littered with ifs and buts. The main criticism of Portland would be how slowly they started the season. One win from their opening 11 games left them a monumental task to try and finish in a playoff position and they almost made it. If they hadn’t been so slow out of the blocks, they would have comfortably secured a playoff spot and their season wouldn’t already be over now. They will be a force in the 2015 season.

What we learnt in Portland’s crucial win against the New York Red Bulls

Maximiliano Urruti stole the show with two goals for Portland Timbers as they came back to seal a 2-1 win over New York Red Bulls. Here are the key talking points to take away:

1. Bradley Wright-Phillips is lethal.

It may seem obvious, but New York Red Bulls simply cannot afford to lose Bradley Wright-Phillips if they want to have a successful season. Should he get injured, you fear for where they are going to get their spark from. He is the joint top goalscorer in MLS alongside Dom Dwyer of Sporting Kansas City following his penalty on Saturday. The English forwards have both notched 10 goals already this season. His link up play with Thierry Henry is improving by the week and the duo have plenty of goals in them.

Photo: Smiley N. Pool/AP

Wright-Phillips moved back to the top of the goalscoring chart alongside Dom Dwyer on Saturday night (Photo: Smiley N. Pool/AP)

2. A tale of two goalkeepers.

Donovan Ricketts of Portland Timbers had a great game between the sticks as he made numerous crucial saves to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips and Thierry Henry. On the flip side, New York Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles, who is usually so reliable, had another below par game, and a nightmare moment in conceding the first goal.

3. Maximiliano Urruti is a very exciting player.

The 23-year-old is certainly a player to watch. Not only did he bag himself two goals but he was lively all game, and caused real problems for the New York Red Bulls defence. You can see him going on to score a lot of goals this season if his form continues. That’s four in four for the Argentine and he was undoubtedly man of the match against New York.

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(Photo: Urruti is in fine form and looking dangerous for Portland)

New York Red Bulls have now lost three on the spin, and will face another stern test as they look to make amends when they travel to Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday, who sit in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls fall to 6th and must turn things around quickly.

Portland Timbers will hope to make it two wins out of two on Wednesday when they face Chivas USA, who sit at the bottom of the Western Conference. Portland are now unbeaten in five and will hope to move into a playoff spot with a win on Wednesday.

Highlights via MLS on YouTube: