MLS Preview and Prediction: Portland Timbers vs Houston Dynamo

Competition: Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo

Venue: Providence Park – Saturday, June 21 – 22:30 ET (Sunday, June 22 – 02:30 BST)

Match Odds: Portland Timbers 4/6 – Draw 11/4 – Houston Dynamo 4/1

Match Preview

Portland Timbers host Houston Dynamo on Saturday, who visit Oregon for the second meeting between the two sides this season.

The Timbers won their third game on the bounce in their last regular season game, beating New England Revolution 2-0. This is the first time Timbers have achieved the feat in their history.

These victories have seen the Timbers rise up the table and into fourth place in the Western Conference and a win could see them into third if results go their way.

Fanendo Adi got both the goals over New England taking his tally to six for the season. In Adi they have a striker full of confidence who seems to be a constant threat. He has netted four more than their second highest scorer Nat Borchers.

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Portland have been solid at home this season, winning three, drawing three and having lost just once at Providence Park.

Houston Dynamo are looking to get successive wins after their 4-2 demolition of New York Red Bulls last time out.

Will Bruin is in good form after a slow start and he has now netted seven goals this season, including two goals against Portland Timbers in the reverse fixture.

Owen Coyle’s men have struggled away from home, winning just one at Toronto, and their poor away form could decide whether the Dynamo can reach the playoff positions or miss out come the end of the campaign.

The reverse fixture saw Houston Dynamo win 3-1 over Portland Timbers back in May, the goals came from Will Bruin, who bagged a brace, and one from Giles Barnes. Portland’s goal came from Fanendo Adi.

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Team News

Portland Timbers have doubts over Diego Valeri (ankle), while Ben Zemanski is still sidelined (knee).

Houston Dynamo will be without Brad Davies and Bonieck Garcia as Owen Coyle mentioned in a press conference earlier this week.

Key Points

Portland Timbers last five in MLS: L/L/W/W/W

Houston Dynamo last five in MLS: W/W/L/D/W

Key Stat: Portland Timbers have only beaten Houston Dynamo once in six attempts.

Key Player: Will Bruin – The Houston Dynamo forward will look to get his fifth goal in three games if he can hit the back of the net this weekend. Bruin will be trusted with unlocking the opposition defence, which he has done twice already this season.

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Score Prediction 

Portland Timbers 2-1 Houston Dynamo – Portland Timbers will just edge it with the single goal being the difference. Both teams have excellent strikers who know how to score but you can’t bet against Portland’s three game unbeaten run.

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Houston Dynamo striker enjoying life under British boss

Houston Dynamo striker Will Bruin is enjoying his football under new boss Owen Coyle after scoring three goals in his last two appearances.

Bruin was instrumental in their 3-1 win against the Portland Timbers last weekend, scoring twice.

Dynamo captain, Brad Davis sympathises with the forward playing as a lone striker, suggesting: “It takes a mentally tough individual to do that, because it’s not always glorious,” Davis said when speaking to MLSsoccer.com.

“You’re usually getting hit from behind, usually up against two or three guys. It’s more about his mental strength than anything. He’s got the physical and athletic ability to handle that; that’s why he is there.”

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The Dynamo have adopted a 4-4-1-1 formation in recents weeks, playing Giles Barnes just behind Bruin, and it’s been so far so good for Coyle’s men.

Will Bruin was also approached about his role and had the following to say: “Under Dominic Kinnear was genuinely my first time ever playing as a lone forward.

“It’s a learning process, and the best way to learn is trial-and-error. Here, I think Owen (Coyle) playing (in the same position) really helps me. He tells you things you have to look for and things that are a little overrated,” said Bruin.

Owen Coyle has finally started to see some success come to his Dynamo side, and he will be hoping that Will Bruin will carry on his form.

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“I obviously know from own playing days how tough a job it is,” Coyle said. “It’s a thankless task for a striker to do the work that the team needs.”

Bruin has been brilliant recently, and he will have to continue this form to keep designated player Erick Torres out of the side once the Mexican arrives in Texas.

How influential has Will Bruin been to the Houston Dynamo and will he keep his place once Erick Torres arrives?

MLS Fantasy Tips: Value for money picks

The new Major League Soccer season is drawing ever closer and that means it’s time to start weighing up your MLS fantasy football options ahead of the new campaign.

Here we’ll look at the best players in terms of value for money from the current list of players on the official MLS Fantasy Soccer game. We’re excited for the new season and fantasy football is one of the best ways to get involved with the fastest growing league in world sport if you’re new to MLS.

Below is a list of the five players we believe will be more than worth their price tag this year and some of them should probably be worth more.

Everyone will want that star name whether it be Kaka, David Villa or Robbie Keane but we take a look at the players that will keep you in the hunt for the fantasy title in your league at a more affordable price.

1. Bryan Rochez – Striker (Orlando City)

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It’s surprising that you can have a new Designated Player for just $7.0m. Rochez is a risk, but we believe he’s one worth taking, as you have to assume he will lead the Orlando City line. And after all, someone has to finish Kaka’s great work. Right?

2. Dan Kennedy – Goalkeeper (FC Dallas)

Kennedy was left without a club after the disbandment of Chivas USA. and Dallas picked him up in the Dispersal Draft and now he can be yours for $5.0m.

In terms of a starting goalkeeper, that price is cheap. Especially when you consider Dallas is expected to challenge for a playoff spot again this season. The only catch could be Chris Seitz as the ‘keeper made 14 starts last year and will compete with Kennedy for the starting role.

3. Will Bruin – Striker (Houston Dynamo)

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Bruin will start up top going into the season, and depending on the form of Erick Torres upon arrival, he could be a crucial member to this Houston side for the entire campaign.

He scored ten times in 27 appearances last term so he has proved he can deliver. A slight risk at $8.0m but we believe he’ll be more than worth that price tag, especially in the early months of the season.

4. Otis Earle – Defender (FC Dallas)

A first round draft pick this year and at $4.0m Earle is the cheapest it can get and we are hoping the young defender will see regular first-team action in Dallas after Jair Benitez left the club.

Earle is known to attack down the left side from left-back and could form a lethal partnership with Fabian Castillo this year.

And at such a low price he’s worth having in the side even if you’re just making room for a star man like Kaka or Sebastian Giovinco.

5. Sam Cronin – Midfielder (Colorado Rapids)

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Cronin was traded to the Rapids from the San Jose Earthquakes in the offseason and is set to partner Marcelo Sarvas in a new-look Colorado midfield so he will see game time.

If you just want someone who will reliably see the field week in, week out, then Cronin is your guy. And at $6.0m, he is a low risk pick.

Who do you think will be the best fantasy player for value in 2015?

Dynamo defiant in victory

By Jamie Ives

Houston Dynamo kept on course for the playoffs with a solid defensive display on Wednesday night as they recorded a 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew.

Their defiance was typified by goalkeeper Tally Hall, who was the man of the match as he kept his fourth clean sheet of the season with another stellar performance.

Houston struggled early on to gain a foothold and were somewhat overcome by the Crew’s dominance.

But the 6’4’ goalkeeper stood strong and produced save after save, keeping the Dynamo in the game.

Columbus went in at the break much the better side, controlling possession and creating numerous chances, and will feel disappointed that they couldn’t get the goal they desperately searched for.

The second half began very differently with the Dynamo coming out firing, and they were soon rewarded.

They broke the deadlock on the fifty-minute mark when Bradley Davis’s free kick was met by Dynamo striker Will Bruin, for his sixth goal of the season.

Columbus Crew will feel hard done by not to score but their strike force are struggling, with just three goals in their last six and they were no match for the in-form Hall.

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(Tally Hall put in an inspired performance to help Houston to victory against Columbus on Wednesday)

The game seemed to lack energy for much of the second half, until a breakaway in the eighty-third-minute resulted in Justin Meram hitting the post for Columbus.

With the clock winding down and the Dynamo looking comfortable, the ball fell to Englishman Andrew Driver, who had a great chance to add another goal, but he could only find the hands Steve Clark in the Columbus goal.

Two wins on the bounce for Houston, who now sit third in the Eastern Conference but the performance of Hall stood out last night and calls will surely be made for a possible world cup place.

Though it would appear a longshot, with Premier League duo, Tim Howard and Brad Guzan both likely to feature before Hall.

Jurgen Klinsmann will name his 30-man USA squad for the World Cup on Monday.