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Scouting Report: Can FC Dallas find a road win in Portland again?

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FC Dallas picked up a win at home last time these two met.

MLS: Portland Timbers at FC Dallas Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

When last we met, the Portland Timbers were struggling with a congested schedule due to Concacaf Champions League matches that demanded significant squad rotation. They have also struggled with injuries to key personnel, and their most recent results bespeak a team struggling with consistency. Portland enters the weekend with a record of 4W-1D-6L – good for 9th in the West and two points ahead of FC Dallas.

Portland Recent Results

Date Home Score Away
Date Home Score Away
5/30 Philadelphia 3-0 Portland
6/19 Portland 2-1 Sporting KC
6/23 Houston 2-2 Portland
6/26 Portland 0-1 Minnesota
7/1 Austin 4-1 Portland

The short version is that’s four points from their last five matches. That’s actually worse than Dallas’ five. And they’ve given up 11 goals in that span (we’ve given up nine).

If you watched the Timbers’ most recent outing, I’m sure you noticed their charitable defensive work to help Austin and their fans celebrate a victory. They’ve struggled to mark runners in the box. They’ve struggled to mark up on set pieces. They’ve struggled to finish. But they’ve also been missing key players for international duty, which created additional strain on their aging core of game-changers. It’s been rough. But while Eryk Williamson is away playing in the Gold Cup for the USMNT, Yimmi Chara and Felipe Mora have returned and in general, the team should be rested when Dallas arrives.

The Numbers

Portland (MP 11) Stat Dallas (MP12)
Portland (MP 11) Stat Dallas (MP12)
14 Goals For 14
19 Goals Against 20
3656 Passes Completed 4672
2002 Passes in Opponents’ Half 1927
150/50 Shots/Shots on Target 165/58
.8 (Clark) G-xG for Keepers .74 (Maurer)
111 Key Passes 118

The numbers are similar. While Steve Zakuani insightfully noted that Dallas’ defensive lapses are costing us games, Portland is right there with us (because the bottom of the Western Conference is a mess). The former Sounders man also suggests that six points this week could get the Timbers “...right back in the mix where they should be.” The same holds true for Dallas (and thank you, sir, for your unsubstantiated faith in Portland and dismissive attitude toward Dallas). The game may come down to who can best shake off their funk, which leads us to...

Keys to the Match:

1) Again, Portland will be missing Williamson, but in addition to the return of the younger Chara (he’s only 30 to Diego’s 35) and Mora, Portland also now has Jeremy Ebobisse in the squad after he missed time at the beginning of the season. He’s picked up his first two goals of the year in the last three matches and clearly bears watching.

2) Did anyone get healthy during this brief break for the Gold Cup? The most recent report I could find listed Martinez as questionable but still lists Hedges as out. If Martinez is able to go (and hopefully get Bressan off the field), that’s a boost for Dallas’ backline. For Portland, Zuparic is out for yellow card accumulation while Blanco and Loria are listed as questionable. Zuparic leads the Timbers in minutes played (Williamson is 3rd) and his absences decrease the stability of an already porous backline. Portland is also facing three matches in the coming week, so how much will Savarese try to rotate the aging legs to prevent further injuries? Despite the break, Portland still has a long list of injuries.

3) Szabolcs Schon... Given Hungary’s exit in the group stage, hopefully he’s been back from the European Championship for most of this break and has had time on the wing in practice. I’m hopeful to see him start. Dallas needs a player to prevent defenses from collapsing around Pepi & Ferreira like the Galaxy did. Obrian has given the ball away too easily, and I want to see what the Ajax product can do.

Out:

Eryk Williamson (International Duty), Polo (injury) Niezgoda (injury), Attinella (injury), Paredes (injury), Jome (injury), & Zuparic (suspension)

Projected Line-Up

Jeremy Ebobisse

Dairon Asprilla – Diego Valeri – Y. Chara

Zambrano – Diego Chara

Van Rankin – Tuiloma – Mabiala – Bonilla

Steve Clark

P.S. The high on Saturday in Portland is supposed to be 81 degrees – none of that crazy 116-degree stuff from last month Portland was mimicking the surface of the sun. Oi.