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Preview: Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers | MLS is Back Tournament, Semifinals

2020 MLS is Back Tournament – Semifinals
Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Wed., August 5 – 8:00 PM ET

TV: FS1, TUDN, FOX Deportes, UniMás; TSN, TVAS2 in Canada

STREAMING: FOX Sports App; TSN App, TVAS App in Canada

It’s a battle of the young guns vs. the old reliables in the first MLS is Back Tournament semifinal as the Portland Timbers and Philadelphia Union will meet to decide which team will grab the first spot in the final on Wednesday. The Union have been buoyed by academy stars Brenden Aaronson and Mark McKenzie — in addition to some superb finishing from Sergio Santos and veteran leadership from Alejandro Bedoya — in their run to the last four.

Portland's MVP has been 32-year-old Sebastian Blanco, who has two goals and five assists in the tournament, while Timbers legends Diego Valeri and Diego Chara are still going strong, even with Valeri shifted to a bench role for the quarterfinal. But don’t let anyone tell you Portland are lacking youth, as 23-year-olds Jeremy Ebobisse and Eryk Williamson have broken out in Orlando.

Portland have dominated the series against the Union, winning six of the 10 matchups between the clubs. Philadelphia’s only win came back in 2015. Valeri has a goal and an assist in each of his last two matches against Philly.

Philadelphia Union

The Union have emerged as one of the favorites, but a prevailing theme throughout the tournament before their quarterfinal clash with SKC was a feeling they had yet to really hit their stride. That changed against Sporting in the quarterfinals, as they raced out to a 3-0 lead in the space of 15 minutes in the first half and did well to withstand some second-half pressure, protect the lead, and see out the victory. That’s the type of thing this team is capable of when they’re on, and Philly will hope the strong showing in the quarters is a sign they’re peaking at the right time.

Project Starting XI
  • Updated team roster
  • Injury Report:
    • QUESTIONABLE: Warren Creavalle (M) - upper leg strain
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None

Portland Timbers

One of the most impressive teams during the group stage, the Timbers had to grind out 90 minutes against a defensive FC Cincinnati side in the Round of 16 before advancing in a penalty-kick shootout. In the quarterfinals, Portland bounced back from a controversial decision that gave NYCFC an early penalty to roll to a 3-1 win over the Cityzens behind standout showings from Blanco and Valeri. After a frustrating end to their 2019 season, it appears the Timbers have been rejuvenated in Orlando.

Project Starting XI
  • Updated team roster
  • Injury Report:
    • OUT: Dairon Asprilla (M) - left knee injury
    • QUESTIONABLE: Marco Farfan (D) - right ankle injury
    • QUESTIONABLE: Yimmi Chara (M) - right thigh injury
    • UNAVAILABLE: Andres Flores (M)
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None

Series Matchup

  • Union: 1 win, 8 goals
  • Timbers: 6 wins, 16 goals
  • 3 draws


  • Referee: Allen Chapman
  • Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Jeremy Kieso
  • 4th Official: Ramy Touchan
  • VAR: Joseph Dickerson
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