Saturday night review: – It was an excellent night with three winners and just a half loser. Sporting Kansas City played better than I expected and so I don’t really have too many bad feelings about that match. It looked like Orlando blew yet another chance to win, but a Kaka penalty in the 100th minute won them the game against TFC. Overall, very satisfied with the night, even if I might have missed out on Dallas winning comfortably.
The Timbers haven’t exactly enjoyed a great campaign so far, but the defending champions do head into this match unbeaten in four games. The big weakness has been in defence where only one clean sheet has been preserved. But they’ve looked a little bit tighter in recent weeks at least. First choice GK Kwarasey is injured and backup Jake Gleeson is rated doubtful, so the hosts might have to start their third choice custodian. Right back Alves Powell is close to a return following a fractured wrist and might be in line to start tonight. Midfield playmaker Darlington Nagbe has been on international duty and unlikely to feature, whilst Dairon Asprilla could be leaving the club soon. Providence Park is regarded as one of the strong home fortresses in MLS and the Timbers are always strongly supported. That said, two teams have already beaten them here this season which is a surprise.
Since Owen Coyle left the club, Houston have been noticeably harder to beat and appear to have a tougher mentality. Under their new interim manager, the Texan outfit have drawn 3/3 matches, a couple of which were away from home in locations everyone expected them to lose. Last week they had the better of things against DC United but were held to a 0-0 draw. Team news is positive for the Dynamo with key man Giles barnes now back in the side following international duty. They have no significant injuries that have been publicised. I would say it’s quite likely the visitors will make themselves hard to break down here, an away draw at Portland would be seen as a good result. Under Coyle, Houston were the most direct passing team in the whole MLS but that won’t be the case as much now.
I think this is a fairly difficult match to call. So many Portland games have been open this season, resulting in both teams scoring in all but one of their matches and a huge amount of over 2.5 affairs. It seems they regularly suck sides into a shootout, so maybe that’ll happen again here? I have a feeling this could be a tighter fixture though. Houston are unlikely to come here on the front foot too much, their new coach is more inclined to put defence first. I’m also not sure Portland are fully comfortable about how they’ve conceded so many goals this season. Manager Caleb Porter has been talking for weeks about tightening up at the back, and it has to be mentioned that on paper this isn’t a bad looking defence. Houston are unlikely to offer too much going forwards and I don’t envisage many chances at either end. That said, Timbers games have that knack of both teams scoring so my prediction is going to be a 1-1 draw.
I don’t see any value in either market. Portland are generally an odds-on favourite which is much too short based on recent form. The Portland attack is dangerous with the likes of Adi and Valeri, although the former might be affected mentally due to rumours he will leave the club soon. I could see the Timbers being quite frustrated by Houston here, especially if the visitors maintain the same sort of mentality under their new coach. If I had to choose a side to back then I’d take the Dynamo +0.75 but there’s no way I’d be willing to risk betting on such a poor statistical road side. The over 2.5 price is not too bad @ about 1.85. A whopping 12/16 Timbers matches have ended over 2.5 this year but the main reason for that is because both teams regularly score. Will that happen here? I’m just not fully sure and I personally see too many question marks pre match. I’m going to swerve this one, just watch it and see if anything interesting develops in-running.
Recommended bet: None