At long last, the Portland Timbers are coming home. It’s been an incredibly rough start to the season for Portland.
At long last, the Portland Timbers are coming home. It’s been an incredibly rough start to the season for Portland. The Timbers spent their first three months on the road as Providence Park was undergoing renovations, but now the defending Western Conference champions are looking to make a run. They will play 17 of their 22 remaining games in the Rose City, and that should see them leapfrog more than a few teams in the coming months. Unfortunately, their return home could be spoiled by the best team in the league, Los Angeles FC.
Portland Timbers vs. Los Angeles FC
MLS Opening Odds:
LAFC have been dismantling teams throughout the season. They have the best record in the league at 10-1-4, and they already have a six point lead on city rival Los Angeles Galaxy for the best record in the MLS. No other team in the league has a goal differential better than +9, yet LAFC boast a goal differential of +25. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Montreal last week before surrendering two late in a victory.
It’s pretty impressive that the Timbers have remained competitive despite playing 12 straight road games to start the season. Portland is 4-6-2, and although the team is currently 10th in the Western Conference standings, they are just four points behind FC Dallas. The Timbers picked up a surprising win when they took on Philadelphia last week. Brian Fernandez scored a quick brace and Diego Valeri sealed the deal late to give the Timbers a 3-1 win.
The first meeting between these two teams ended in a rout. LAFC secured a 4-1 victory at home, as four different players got in on the scoring. That result frustrated Diego Chara who picked up a second yellow and was booted from the game after tripping an LAFC player behind the play.
Goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic is still sidelined for Portland after suffering a tibial stress fracture back in February. The Slovenian was only supposed to be out for 6-8 weeks, but he has yet to play this season. Reserve goalkeeper Kendall Mcintosh is questionable with a strained thigh muscle, while midfielder Cristhian Paredes is dealing with a thigh injury as well.
Defender Steven Beitashour will miss this match for LAFC because of a strained left hamstring, and midfielder Alejandro Guido is questionable because of a strained quad.
Los Angeles FC Player to Watch
Carlos Vela is making a mockery of the league. Vela is averaging a goal per game this season, and he is five goals ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the race for the MLS Golden Boot. His nine assists are also the most in the league, and the fact that he is averaging 1.6 points per game is utterly absurd. Bob Bradley’s system and teammates like Diego Rossi and Adama Diomande have helped for sure, but Vela is playing at a different level than everyone else.
Portland Timbers Player to Watch
Diego Valeri has been an All-Star in four of the last five seasons, and the MLS MVP in 2017 is the key to everything for Portland. His creativity allows this attack to flourish, and his play nearly led the Timbers to the MLS Cup last season. Valeri has three goals and seven assists this season, but his numbers should improve at home.
Portland Timbers vs Los Angeles FC Betting Prediction
It’s really hard to go against LAFC. Portland have a great home field advantage, and their fans will be fired up after three months away from home, but this LAFC team is something special. As long as they stay healthy, they should be odds-on favorites to win the MLS Cup, so I’ll call for them to get the victory here.