After starting on the right foot last weekend, LAFC look to make it two wins from two on Sunday evening (10pm ET; TV: Live on FOX). Standing in their way is a Portland Timbers outfit that fought hard to take a point from the New England Revolution last weekend, so the hosts don’t have the easiest task at Banc of California Stadium.
This preview will try to work out how this matchup plays out, with our betting predictions and picks.
It was all very simple for Bob Bradley and his men on match-day one. Thanks to a certain Carlos Vela, who continues to shine as one of the finest MLS players, not only right now but ever. Los Angeles FC scored three times en route to dismantling the Colorado Rapids, who simply had no answer to the questions posed by the Mexican hitman. After such an opening effort, Sunday’s hosts will come into this fixture full of confidence.
The Portland Timbers had a different sort of opening weekend. They too played at home, though it was just one point for last season’s MLS Cup finalists, as they were held by last season’s runaway Eastern Conference winners New England Revolution. Failing to win at home is never the best thing in the world, though we all know how strong the Revs are, so it certainly wasn’t negative that the Timbers only manged to tie.
Be brave at Banc of California Stadium
When teams enter LAFC’s home, they need to be brave. If you’re going to go to Banc of California Stadium, you can’t simply sit off and wait for something to happen, as the hosts will punish you. We saw just how dangerous Bradley’s men can be last week, scoring three goals, firing off 15 shots, seven of which hit the target, producing a healthy 2.0 expected goals, and if we are totally honest, they appeared to have plenty in reserve.
We also saw how effective LAFC can be at home last season, especially from an attacking point of view. 34 goals scored made them the second-highest home scorers in the Western Conference, while they were easily the top dogs in terms of creativity, averaging 2.12 expected goals per 90 minutes in front of their own fans. Nobody in the west had a better expected goal difference at home either, with Bradley’s troops producing an average expected goal difference of +1.09 in their own backyard. The next best of +0.66 shows just how good they were in that sense.
Recent head-to-head record
In recent times, this has been a fixture that the Portland Timbers have thrived in. When the teams last met, back in September 2021, LAFC came up short in front of their own fans, losing by two goals to one, though if we’re completely honest, they were slightly fortunate, as the pair were evenly matched.
Prior to that, the Timbers won 2-1 in front of a home crowd, though again, it must be said that they were fortunate. On that occasion, it was LAFC who created the better chances. Interestingly, as tough as it is to go to Banc of California Stadium, Sunday’s visitors have avoided defeat in each of their last two away games against LAFC, losing just one of their last five. It is fair to say that such a record should leave Savarese’s boys feeling upbeat ahead of this fixture.
Goals on the cards?
After their impressive win last weekend, the hosts are not at all difficult to fancy, though they look pretty short in the betting, especially since they’re up against a side that knows how to get a result in this fixture, a side that will also be confident after holding one of the best teams in all of Major League Soccer on the opening weekend.
With the lines the way they are right now, ‘Both Teams to Score’ appeals. Both sides showed their attacking quality on match-day one, scoring five goals between them, and they did so against teams that finished highly in their respective conferences last season, so we know that both can produce the good against the best.
What’s more, it’s rare that either side fails to score in this fixture, with both teams scoring in each of the two renewals last season, as well as in each of the last seven, not to mention each of the last four at Banc of California Stadium. We’re also talking about the best and third-best teams in terms of expected goals created in the Western Conference last season.
Niezgoda to net
Polish forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda wasn’t exactly a permanent fixture in the Portland Timbers front-line last season, but the early signs are that he’s going to play plenty of soccer this time around, and if that’s the case, don’t be surprised if he bags plenty of goals.
An average of 1.05 goals per 90 minutes last term points towards a man who can be deadly, while an average of 0.48 expected goals for is not to be sneezed at either. Yes, LAFC are fierce opposition, but the way the Pole put himself about against a Revs side that is perhaps even fiercer suggests that he won’t be fazed by the task. So the man who averaged 2.45 shots per 90 minutes last term, stands out as a viable scorer bet. So, if you want a wager with one of the top USA sports betting firms then these are our advised betting picks and predictions for this preview: