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Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Portland Timbers

FC Dallas look to extend their home unbeaten run.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas returns after an exhilarating win over Houston, while Portland heads to Frisco after thumping Seattle at home.

International Call-ups

This is going to be one of those awkward games where both teams are missing a lot of key players do to the international break. Portland will be without Alvas Powell, Jermaine Taylor, and Darlington Nagbe. Meanwhile FC Dallas will be short Tesho Akindele, Carlos Gruezo, Maynor Figueroa, Aubrey David, and Kellyn Acosta. It will be difficult for both sides to cobble together an effective line-up with the remnants of their teams.

Potential Lineup

Portland is missing Nat Borchers and Gbenga Arokoyo for this week’s game.

GK: Jack Gleeson; LB: Vytautas Andriuskevicius; CB: Liam Ridgewell, Steven Taylor; RB: Zarek Valentin; CDM: Diego Chara; CM: Jack Jewsbury, Diego Valeri; RW: Lucas Melano; LW: Jack Barmby; FW: Fanendo Adi.

Key Matchup

Mauro Diaz vs. Diego Chara. Mauro Diaz has gone a little cold in recent weeks, but he is still vital to FC Dallas success tonight. His ability to hold the ball and find an outlet could be the difference between breaking the game open and stifling it completely. Chara is tasked with limiting the Argentine’s time on the ball and making sure that Diaz isn’t the creative force he can be.

Keys to Three Points

Portland’s Defense.

Portland has a decent defense, but with the international calls, they are missing two full-back options and have a few others listed as questionable for this game. It will be important that they seal up those gaps adequately or an in-form Barrios could terrorize them.

Filling the Holes.

Dallas has lost a lot of players for this game. The starting defensive midfield pairing of Acosta and Gruezo are gone. A few full-back options are missing and Dallas is short Akindele, who broke the game wide open last week. It will be tough for Dallas to find a rhythm with so many holes to fill.

Playing Smart.

Both teams have a lot to think about when choosing their line-ups and I won’t be surprised if this game starts slow while both teams feel each other out. Dallas will struggle in the midfield with two massive losses and try to play to the wing to exploit Portland’s lack of depth. Portland will try to limit Barrios and Diaz and make the most of their own chances on corners and set pieces.

Prediction

Dallas has enough to see off the Timbers.

My Prediction: FC Dallas 3-1.