Know Your Enemy: Portland Timbers FC

Caleb Porter's side enjoying a run of good form after slow start

Portland Timbers KYE

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While the entire planet will be focusing their attentions on Brazil, there is still one more MLS game for FC Dallas to deal with before Thursday’s big party kicks off. Dallas is back on the road for another Wednesday night battle with their Western Conference rivals, the Portland Timbers.

Portland is coming off a 3-1 win on Saturday over Real Salt Lake. Caleb Porter’s side has finally hit a bit of a hot streak after starting off the season winless in their first eight matches. The Timbers have won three out of their last four.

Last season Portland won both matches in Oregon. FC Dallas did get the upper hand against the Timbers back in March, a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Blas Perez and Mauro Diaz.

Injury Watch

Porter’s side hasn’t had as many injury issues to deal with in the last few weeks as most clubs have. No player is listed as out for this match, but the Timbers do have a group of players with question marks next to their names. Defenders Michael Harrington (ankle), Norberto Paparatto (concussion) and midfielder Ben Zemanski (concussion) are all questionable for Wednesday’s game.

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WATCH: PTFC 3, RSL 1

Key Matchups

Fabian Castillo vs Jack Jewsbury - This is a matchup of speed vs experience. Jewsbury has been around MLS a long time, but doesn’t exactly have the wheels to keep up with Castillo for 90 minutes. FC Dallas will want to stretch the field with Castillo and find ways to keep him involved in the attack.

Fanendo Adi vs Stephen Keel - Adi has already shown that he can be very dangerous in and around the penalty box. How the veteran Keel defends Portland’s hottest player will go a long way in determining how well FCD does on the road in this game. 

Key Player for San Jose

Fanendo Adi - The Copenhagen loanee from Nigeria has been a huge spark for the Timbers over the last few weeks. In five games, Adi has four goals including a brace over the weekend against Real Salt Lake.

Projected Lineup

Porter has stuck with a 4-2-3-1 formation that sometimes resembles a 4-3-3.

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GK: Donovan Ricketts, RB: Jack Jewsbury, CB: Rauwshan McKenzie, Pa Modou Kah, LB: Jorge Villafana, RDM: Diego Chara, LDM: Will Johnson, RM: Darlington Nagbe, CM: Diego Valeri, LM: Gastón Fernández, F: Fanendo Adi

Keys to three points

After the slow start to the season, the Timbers have really come alive in the last few weeks after the addition of Adi to their lineup. The Nigerian has sparked the offense along with Diego Valeri and Maximiliano Urruti.

FC Dallas will need to keep this game as simple as possible. If the Hoops can spread out the Timbers on the narrow pitch at Providence Park, find ways to continue to involve Castillo, Andres Escobar and Blas Perez in the attack, then they could very well make it out of Portland with some points.

The Timbers do well at earning free kicks and scoring off corner kicks in recent weeks. Portland scored two goals off corner kicks last weekend and given the issues FCD had against Colorado last weekend in this department, FCD will need to limit those set piece opportunities.

With the World Cup break ahead, this is a perfect game for Oscar Pareja to not hold anything back.  FCD will also need to be smart in possession and rely on some constant pressure from all over. Portland is a team that does well in possession but they also still struggle when teams put them on their heels in the back. FCD had plenty of success against them earlier this season when applying pressure from the wings and in the attacking third of the field.