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KNOW YOUR ENEMY: Portland Timbers | 3.24.18

FRISCO - FC Dallas continues MLS play this Saturday, March 24th as they host Portland Timbers at Toyota Stadium for their 3rd straight home game of the season.

After a tough preseason and CCL run, FC Dallas (1-0-1) look to build on their momentum from their 3-0 weekend victory over Seattle. Portland (0-2-0) has started off the season with two losses and a bye week, which was much needed for new head coach Giovanni Savarese to sort things out within his squad. 

Early-Season Struggles

Portland has started the season on the road due to renovations at Providence Park and the results haven’t been favorable for them. They have started with the worst record in MLS so far including two losses and six goals conceded while only putting forward one goal scored. After a dominating display in 2017 from Portland, they saw their playoff hopes diminish quickly and a new coach left a lot to get used to for the mainstay Timber players. Savarese employs the same 4-2-3-1 formation that Porter did but injuries to stars like Diego Chara have seen Savarese’s side start off slowly. This Timbers side has depth in the attack, so a switch up in formation is possible with both Portland strikers, Fanendo Adi and newly acquired Samuel Armenteros pair together up top.

Key Match-Ups

Mauro Diaz vs. Diego Chara – Portland hasn’t won a game in MLS without Diego Chara in the starting lineup since July 2015 and luckily for Portland he should be back this weekend. David Guzman will be out with the Costa Rican National Team so Chara will most likely slot into his favored No. 6 role and be on Diaz all match. Chara is known for his physicality and ability to win balls in the middle so it will be a great matchup between the Argentinian playmaker and the Colombian destroyer.

Reggie Cannon vs. Sebastian Blanco – Reggie Cannon has started off his MLS career with a pair of solid performances. Saturday's match will see Cannon with his biggest challenge yet facing one of the league’s best wingers in Sebastian Blanco. Blanco will look to win his 1v1s on the wing and combine with Valeri in the middle. Cannon will need to keep Blanco on lockdown and make him play down the wings because he is dangerous when cutting inside.

Projected XI

Jake Gleeson; Marco Farfan, Liam Ridgewell, Larrys Mabiala, Zarek Valentin; David Guzman, Lawrence Olum; Sebastián Blanco, Diego Valeri, Darrion Asprilla; Samuel Armenteros

Keys to Three Points

FCD need to continue the game they played against Seattle, albeit a depleted side with injuries, it was a match of great soccer played by Pareja’s men. It seems the team’s success so far has been in great wing play from Micheal Barrios, Roland Lamah, and Santiago Mosquera with great balls being played from Diaz. If anything, FCD’s wingers need to run at Portland’s fullbacks and isolate them in 1v1’s. Both regular fullback starters, Powell and Vytas, are out so it is something the attacking line will need to take advantage of. Another good showing from the team will continue to do wonders for confidence and build a rhythm within to start the season. 

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