In-form franchises clash at Allianz Field on Saturday (3pm ET), as Minnesota United host the Portland Timbers. After winning last time out, both will be looking to continue moving on up. Will either of them get them desired results?
For some time now, the Loons have been moving in the right direction. They were victorious last time out, beating the Houston Dynamo by two goals to one on the road. That was a victory that came after their friendly thrashing of Premier League side Everton. That was a result that perhaps shows the progress on Major League Soccer overall, though that’s a debate for another day. Prior to beating the Dynamo, Saturday’s hosts beat D.C. here, while they’ve now gone six MLS games without tasting defeat, five of which they’ve won. Such form is impossible pick holes in.
Without being quite as prolific in terms of winning as the hosts, the Timbers have also enjoyed themselves of late. They beat the San Jose Earthquakes last time out, while their recent away-day victory at Lumen Field will have left them feeling very confident. After all, not many teams can go to Seattle and returning home having scored three and conceded none. Like the Loons, the Timbers are currently on a pleasing unbeaten run having lost none of their last seven MLS games.
The hosts come into this fixture in great form, there can be no getting away from that fact, though their performances of late have been a little top heavy, which suggests that sooner or later, they’ll slip up. Offensively, there can be no criticism of a team that has notched 11 goals in six games, scoring two or more in five of those six, but there has been a few worrying moments defensively during that spell, especially when conceding twice against both the Galaxy and Real Salt Lake.
During their six-game unbeaten run, the Loons have kept just one clean sheet, and have conceded a total of seven goals. Not terrible, but not great. Moreover, they have sometimes struggled to dominate their opponents in terms of chances created, which tells us that they have enjoyed some good fortune. In their 3-2 win against the Galaxy, Adrian Heath’s men easily were outplayed in terms of expected goals, while in terms of chances created, they weren’t exactly convincing winners against either Vancouver or Houston last time out. For all that the hosts are riding a wave, and they are, and for all their forward strength, they are far from infallible, so don’t expect things to be straightforward here.
Timbers chopping away
Like the hosts, the visitors have been very strong offensively of late. They’ve scored two or more goals in five of their last six, scoring a total of 13 goals during that time. What’s more, they’ve produced a great average of 2.06 xG, which shows that they know how to forge scoring openings. Far from secure at the other end, Giovanni Savarese’s boys, again like the Loons, haven’t been perfect at the back, but they’ve more clean sheets lately and have conceded multiple goals fewer times than their hosts. What’s more, they’ve done more consistent job of producing more expected goals than their opponents, which is not something to ignore, that’s for sure.
Minnesota’s fixtures in MLS
When it comes to Major League Soccer renewals of this fixture, it’s Minnesota United who’ve had the better of things in recent times. They have won three of the last four league matches between the pair, including when they last met at this venue in competitive action, winning by two goals to one back in July 2021. The Portland Timbers did win at Allianz Field back in February, but that was a friendly fixture. They’ve not won a single MLS game on the road at Minnesota, despite having four bites of the cherry.
Take Timbers On The Spread
Make no mistake about it, the hosts are in form, and they’ll approach this game feeling upbeat. So will the visitors, and if we look at the recent efforts of both, it is easy to feel that there’s some juice in the price of the Timbers, who look to have a slightly better chance of avoiding defeat than the early betting lines would suggest.
For starters, it is the Timbers who’ve been conceding fewer goals of late, while they’ve also performed slightly better in terms of goals scored. Sure, they’ve not won at Allianz Field in MLS before, but there’s a first time for everything. After all, in their last six, the visitors have produced a more than reasonable average expected goal difference of +0.65, which looks very good compared to Minnesota’s recent average expected goal difference of +0.01.
Dairon to do it
An alternative or secondary option here is Dairon Asprilla to score. It’s taken a while for the Colombian forward to really get up to speed this season, but he’s been in fine form of late, scoring in each of his last three appearances. Such form makes odds of +300 look on the large side, so why not take a punt on the 30-year-old, who now averages 0.43 goals (and 0.36 expected goals) per 90 minutes in a Timbers shirt this season, to find the net.
So these are the MNUFC vs RCTID predictions and picks for this MLS game preview: