KNOW YOUR ENEMY: FC Dallas at Portland Timbers | 9.29.18

FRISCO — FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers meet for the first time in over six months on Saturday. The two teams played the first match to a 1-1 draw, with Roland Lamah scoring the lone Dallas goal from a Jacori Hayes assist.

This match can have a major impact on playoff seeding. Portland is currently in fourth place, only four points shy from second-place Sporting Kansas City and a first-round bye. On the other end, they are six points clear of the LA Galaxy, the first team out of the playoffs if the season ended today.

Portland is coming into the match after loss to Minnesota United FC. The Timbers fell into a quick 3-0 hole in the first half, before scoring two second half goals, but still fell short.

Backline Struggles

Portland has struggled to keep the ball out of its net the past couple of games. In its past three matches, Portland has allowed nine goals, all against opponents outside the top 10 in goals per game. Dallas' offense has looked really strong as of late, registering at least two goals in three of its last four games, including a season-high four-goal outburst vs. Houston.

Second Half

The Timbers have had much more success scoring in the second half of games this season. They've has scored 17 goals in the first half, 18th most in the league, compared to 29 goals in the final 45 minutes, ninth best in MLS. This does not line up for FC Dallas, who has only given up 13 goals in the first half, second best in MLS, but has given up 25 second half goals.

Key Matchups

Santi Mosquera vs. Alvas Powell — Mosquera has been lights out for Dallas in the past month. He has scored four goals in the team's last four matches, including the opening goal in the Vancouver match last week.

Reto Ziegler vs. Diego Valeri — Valeri is the most dangerous player on the Timbers attack. He leads the team in goals and assists, with 10 of each. Ziegler and Matt Hedges will have to keep their eyes on Valeri for all 90 minutes because he can strike in an instant.

Projected Starting XI

Portland Timbers (4-5-1): Clark; Villafaña, Mabiala, Cascante, Powell; Chara, Guzman, Polo, Valeri, Conechny; Armenteros

Keys to Three Points

FCD must continue to attack from the wings. Santiago Mosquera and Michael Barrios are playing their best soccer of the year right now and can create great chances from the outside-in for Dallas.