It’ll be a short week for FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers as the two meet on Wednesday night at Providence Park in the rubbermatch of matching three-game weeks. Dallas (3-1-2, 11 points) is coming off of a 2-2 draw at home against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night and will return home on Sunday to face Sporting KC. Portland (1-2-2, 5 points) earned a 1-1 road draw with the LA Galaxy on Sunday night and will host the Quakes on Saturday.
Wednesday night will be the first meeting between the two opponents in last year’s Western Conference Final, which the Timbers won on aggregate en route to their first MLS Cup. Dallas spent the offseason reloading their roster and the clubs' paths crossed once again in December as FCD selected Maxi Urruti first overall in the 2015 MLS Re-Entry draft after spending the better part of three seasons in Portland. The Argentine striker leads his new club with three goals in his first season as a true starter and will look for a big return to the Rose City.
KEY PLAYER FOR PORTLAND
Fanendo Adi – The third-year MLS striker is off to a roaring start in 2016 with four goals in five games for the Timbers. Adi scored the series-clinching goal in last year’s playoff battle and with Darlington Nagbe ruled out from the receiving end of a violent tackle, Portland will need look to their big man up top to carry the offense in the near-term.
Maxi Urruti vs. Nat Borchers – The last time Urruti was at Providence Park, he was lifting the MLS Cup in Portland’s championship celebration. Almost five months removed, he’ll look to showcase his talent as the go-to ‘Number 9’ in his former home. Borchers will look to shut down his former teammate and has an extra motivation after scoring an 84th minute own goal to drop a three-point performance on the road Sunday.
Tesho Akindele vs. Jermaine Taylor – The 2014 Rookie of the Year is on a tear of late, scoring or contributing to a goal in his last three games with Dallas. After his first start of the season on Saturday, he’s likely to get a second if Mauro Diaz doesn’t make the short turnaround trip to Portland.
PROJECTED LINEUP (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Adam Kwarsey; Defenders: Chris Klute, Nat Borchers, Jermaine Taylor, Alvas Powell; Midfielders: Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury; Lucas Melano, Diego Valeri, Ned Grabavoy; Forward: Fanendo Adi.
KEYS TO THREE POINTS
Dallas has never won at Providence Park, but will look to turn luck in their favor Wednesday night. If they can start strong defensively and not allow an early goal like in the last two matches, but still score goals in a dual-threat look up top with Urruti and Akindele, three points should be in the pocket heading into another tough match this weekend.