FC Dallas vs Portland Timbers: Preview and Prediction

Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Time to dive into Portland and make a bold prediction.

The last match in the month of March pits FC Dallas against the Portland Timbers. So far the Timbers are 0-1-2 on the season, and the lone loss was last weekend on the road in Colorado.

FC Dallas Notes:

Big Tex contribues - David Texeira continues to make an impact when he enters a game for FC Dallas. First it was in Kansas City when he helped earn a free kick that lead to a game-tying goal, and last week it has him again earning a free kick that lead to Fabian Castillo's goal.

Road team is winless. The road team in this season series is currently winless. Portland did manage a draw last year here in Frisco but the Timbers have only scored twice in four all-time meetings in North Texas. FCD on the other hands has 11 goals in those four meetings in Frisco.

Quick stats from Chivas USA game - Here are the Opta stats from last week's game:
Jair Benitez: 122 actions (game high).
Matt Hedges: 92% passing efficiency.
Andrew Jacobson: Five headers won.
Mauro Diaz: Three successful dribbles, two through balls, two key passes.
Hendry Thomas: 52 successful passes, won five headers, six interceptions.
Fabian Castillo: Four successful dribbles.
Blas Perez: Seven headers won.

Keys to three points:

Portland is a team that is still searching for their identity this season. Caleb Porter's side has two draws to begin the year before last week's 2-0 loss in Colorado that saw keeper Donovan Ricketts go down with a red card.

The Timbers are still very much the same team that dominated the Western Conference in 2013. Diego Valeri hasn't quite got things going this season like he did a year ago but it is really only a matter of time before he begins producing again. Porter hasn't shifted Valeri around a ton this season but he is always more productive from the middle of the field rather than from a wide position. FC Dallas will want to force him wide more times than not to keep him from being able to set up the Timbers' attack.

Along with Valeri, the Timbers bring another crafty Argentine in forward Gaston Fernandez. The newcomer currently leads the Timbers with two goals on the season, both came at home in the draws. Fernandez is the type of player that does well at putting himself in good spots to score, but based on last week's performance as the top striker in the 4-3-3 set-up, he does need a little bit of help from his surrounding players to help facilitate the attack.

Dallas fans are very familiar with Darlington Nagbe and what he brings to the table. Nagbe has scored four goals against FCD during his time in the league, more goals than he has scored against any other team. Defensively, Dallas will need to play a little more direct in front of him and other guys like Steve Zakuani. FCD has the pace to match these guys but it will come down to who is in the middle of the pitch for Oscar Pareja in the midfield that will make the true difference.

Portland has yet to give up a goal in during the run of play too this season. That means they've given up goals on set pieces, which happens to be an area that FCD is known for so far this month. FCD will want to expose the Timbers in this area and cause issues for them both on corners and free kicks.

Prediction:

The absences of Hendry Thomas and Andrew Jacobson in the midfield for FCD really worry me in this one, but saying that, I think if FCD brings enough pressure up front to test Portland's back up keeper, things could level out. This one could be won on set pieces as well, which favors FCD. I think in the end, the talent on Portland will keep this one close and we'll end the night with a point apiece.

FC Dallas 1, Portland 1

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