FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview
FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS Regular Season
Toyota Stadium – Frisco, Texas
Saturday, April 29 – 8 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Who’s the best in the West?
That’s the big question up for discussion on Saturday evening when Supporters’ Shield-leading Portland Timbers travel to face lone remaining unbeaten team of 2017, FC Dallas, who sit second in the Western Conference.
Despite their high-flying form, both teams will be making due without some key players. On the Portland side, it was revealed on Wednesday that neither star playmaker Diego Valeri nor starting goalkeeper Jake Gleeson would feature on Saturday due to injury. The hosts, meanwhile, continue to anticipate the return of star playmaker Mauro Diaz, who will not be ready for a while longer, but did return to training this week.
Even without the missing playmakers, this match-up will offer an intriguing look at two of the league’s most capable coaches in Oscar Pareja and Caleb Porter, and give both a chance to test the quality that could guarantee silverware come fall: roster depth.
Dallas have quietly been motoring along as arguably the league’s best outfit for the better part of two months and have already held off fellow West contenders Sporting KC on two separate occasions, but Pareja did throw a wrinkle into the mix when he opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation instead of the 4-4-2 he began the season with in last Saturday's win over SKC.
Considering Portland are coming into a venue where they’ve struggled to win without Valeri, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pareja once again opt for the attack-minded lineup. No matter the formation, one player that figures to be crucial to FCD’s success in this one is midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who was profiled this week by Soccer America’s Ridge Mahoney as the focal point of FCD’s unbeaten start to the regular season.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: Bryan Reynolds (US U-17s), Paxton Pomykal (US U-18s)
- Injury Report: OUT: M Mauro Diaz (torn Achilles); QUESTIONABLE: GK Chris Seitz (hamstring injury)
Projected starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jesse Gonzalez – Hernan Grana, Walker Zimmerman, Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa – Kellyn Acosta, Carlos Gruezo – Roland Lamah, Javier Morales, Michael Barrios – Cristian Colman
Notes: Following their 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City, FC Dallas are now unbeaten in 11 consecutive MLS regular season games (6W-5D). They have kept six clean sheets in their last 10 regular season games and haven’t allowed multiple goals in any of those matches. … Matt Hedges has 258 interceptions since the start of the 2015 season, the most of any MLS player. Only six other players have more than 200 interceptions.
With Valeri and Gleeson out, the Timbers will likely turn to either Sebastian Blanco or Darlington Nagbe to fill the creative gap in the middle of the field and Jeff Attinella in goal. We’ll lean towards Blanco to fill Valeri's place in the lineup, given Nagbe’s effectiveness on the left wing and the ability of Dairon Asprilla and Darren Mattocks to fill in on the right.
Whatever the case may be when it comes to his replacement, the Timbers will sorely miss Valeri’s chance creation in this one – per Opta, the chances he’s created have amounted to a league-leading 3.42 expected goals. For a full breakdown of the potential impact Valeri’s loss will have on the Timbers, be sure to check out this excellent piece of analysis from MLSsoccer.com’s own Ben Baer.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles tear), GK Jake Gleeson (hip flexor injury), M Diego Valeri (hip injury); M Ben Zemanski (adductor injury)
Projected starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jeff Attinella – Alvas Powell, Lawrence Olum, Liam Ridgwell, Vytas Andriuskevicius – David Guzman, Diego Chara – Dairon Asprilla, Sebastian Blanco, Darlington Nagbe – Fanendo Adi
Notes: Darlington Nagbe had a goal and an assist last weekend, only the fourth time in his career that he has notched a goal and an assist in the same regular season MLS game (194 regular season appearances). … Portland have won two of their three away games in 2017 after finishing the 2016 regular season with a seven-game road losing streak. The Timbers have only kept one clean sheet in their last 10 regular season away matches (21 total goals conceded).
Dallas maintain a slight edge in the all-time regular-season series, including wins in each of the last four, and that difference is even more pronounced when the two teams meet in Texas. The Timbers have only won once in their regular-season visits to Toyota Stadium, a 2-0 win in October 2014.
- Overall: Dallas 7 wins (32 goals) … Portland 5 wins (21 goals) … Ties 4
- At Dallas: Dallas 6 wins (22 goals) .. Portland 1 win (8 goals) … Ties 2
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Cameron Blanchard
4th Official: Marcos DeOliveira