FC Dallas-Timbers Preview

National Sports

Giovanni Savarese has warned FC Dallas to expect a different Portland Timbers this weekend to the side that lost heavily against Austin FC last time out.

The Timbers have had two weeks to reflect on their 4-1 reverse at the hands of Dallas, which followed on from a 1-0 loss against Minnesota United.

The short hiatus has given Portland a chance to recharge, though, and Savarese is seeking a response to those back-to-back defeats when Dallas visit Providence Park.

“The last game was very difficult. It was not a good performance from us or the type of game we want to see,” he said.

“We’ve been dealing with a lot of different things. I have to say the guys have been very good at fighting through it and making sure they give everything they have.

“We’ve had some good games and wins, while other games haven’t gone our way like the one in Austin.

“But we’ve had time now to train, get guys back and have a fuller group available. We’ll feel a lot different against Dallas.”

Dallas were also beaten last time out, going down 3-1 to LA Galaxy to fall to 12th in the Western Conference, two points behind next opponents Portland.

The Toros return to Providence Park for the first time since beating the Timbers on penalties during last season’s play-offs, though unlike on that occasion home fans will be in attendance on Saturday.

“Going to their stadium last year is a reference. I know the fans weren’t allowed to be a part of that moment but it’s still a difficult place to get results,” Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez said.

“We knew we weren’t expected to win last year and we used that in our motivation. So, we’re using a similar approach.

“They’re also a team that’s expected to win at home and they have their fans, so we enjoy that pressure and that environment.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Jeremy Ebobisse

The Timbers may have failed to pick up a win in their last three games, but Ebobisse has at least found some form during that stretch with his first couple of goals of 2021.

The 24-year-old scored a combined 20 goals in the last two MLS seasons, so Savarese could do with the forward going on a scoring run to propel the Timbers up the table.

FC Dallas – Ricardo Pepi

The Toros have scored just three goals in their last 13 away matches. Pepi is responsible for two of those – Gonzalo Jara scored the other against Galaxy last time out – including one at Providence Park in the 2020 playoffs.

He leads the team with five goals in total this season and a lot is already of expected of the teenage forward at such a young age.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Timbers have lost only one of their 12 home matches against FC Dallas (W7 D4, including play-offs), though Dallas knocked Portland out of last season’s play-offs on penalties at Providence Park after drawing 1-1 over 120 minutes.

– Portland have already lost six matches this season, equalling their total from all 23 matches in the 2020 regular season. The six losses in 11 matches equals the most defeats Portland has ever had at this stage of a season (six in 2019).

– Dallas have lost their first five away matches of the 2021 season, being outscored 12-2 in those games. This is the second longest road losing streak to start a season for Dallas, who lost their first six road games of the 2000 season.

– The Timbers have conceded an MLS-high 10 set-piece goals this season, including six off corners, which is also the most in the league. A total of 32 percent (6/19) of the goals Portland have allowed this season have come from corner kicks, the highest percentage in MLS.

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