FRISCO — FC Dallas will begins it path to the 2018 MLS Cup on Wednesday, hosting the Portland Timbers in the Knockout Round.
Dallas fell to the No. 4 seed after losing 2-1 to Colorado on Sunday, while the Timbers maintained the No. 5 seed in a 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps. Prior to Sunday's match, Portland was riding a two-game winning streak.
These two sides met not long ago, playing to a 0-0 in Portland on Sept. 29. It will be the first match between the teams at Toyota Stadium since March, where the teams also played to a draw, this time 1-1. Roland Lamah scored the lone FCD goal.
Road games have not been kind to the Timbers this season. The club is 1-5-1 in its last seven road matches, giving up 18 goals in that span. It has also allowed three or more goals in four of those seven matches.
On top of its recent road struggles, Portland has not been able to secure a lot points when it travels over to the Central or Eastern Time Zones. It is 0-6-4 in those games.
Carlos Gruezo vs. Sebastián Blanco — Blanco is one of the hottest players in MLS heading into the playoffs. He only played 16 minutes in the Timbers finale, but before that, he had recorded points in his last four matches, totaling four goals and three assists. Blanco can make things happen near the goal and the midfielders are going to have to track back and take some pressure off of the back line.
Michael Barrios vs. Jorge Villafaña — Although Barrios has not been able to get on the score sheet the past two matches, he has not lacked creating chances. His speed has caused problems for opposing defenses from the wing and has been able to give Dallas good looks on net.
PROJECTED STARTING XI
Portland Timbers (4-5-1): Clark; Villafaña, Tuiloma, Mabiala, Valentin; Guzmán, Chara, Blanco, Valeri, Polo; Ebobisse
KEY TO THREE POINTS
FC Dallas must be able to keep its composure in the game's final 15 minutes. Dallas has given up a goal in the last 10 minutes of each of its last three matches, all losses to end the regular season.