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Toronto FC vs Portland Timbers | MLS Match Preview

TORONTO FC vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
BMO FIELD, Toronto, Ont.
Sept. 27, 2014 (WEEK 29, MLS Game #276)
1 p.m. ET (TSN2; ROOT-NW; MLSsoccer.com Stream of the Week)

A pair of clubs currently right at the red line in their respective conferences meet in an interdivisional matchup when Toronto FC play host to the Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC are three points behind fifth place and the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference, ending their long winless run last weekend with a 3-0 win against Chivas USA. The Timbers leapfrogged into fifth place and the final postseason spot in the West after their 3-0 win against rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday afternoon at Providence Park.

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REFEREE: Ismail Elfath. AR1 (bench): Corey Parker; AR2 (opposite): James Conlee; 4th: Geoff Gamble
MLS Career: 37 games; FC/gm: 25.4; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 11; pens: 11

SUSPENDED: TOR: Jackson (through Oct. 5)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: TOR: Michael Bradley, Justin Morrow … POR: Will Johnson, Pa Modou Kah, Diego Valeri
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: TOR: Steven Caldwell, Jackson, Dominic Oduro, Warren Creavalle, Collen Warner, Gilberto … POR: Diego Chara, Norbetto Paparatto
DISABLED LIST: none
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 6 goals … Timbers 1 win, 8 goals … Ties 2
AT TORONTO (2 meetings): Toronto FC 1 win, 4 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1

LAST YEAR (MLS)
9/7: POR 4, TOR 0 (Alhassan 46+; Wallace 83; W. Johnson 87; Valeri 93+)

  • This is the only meeting of the season between the two clubs.
  • The Timbers defeated Toronto FC for the first time ever last Sept. 7, a 4-0 win in Portland. The teams had played to consecutive draws.
  • TFC defeated Portland 2-0 in the first meeting ever between the clubs, March 26, 2011. Each team has won once in two meetings on their own home ground, with one draw.
  • Coaches record: Greg Vanney vs. POR: first game … Caleb Porter vs. TOR: P1 W1 L0 D0

TORONTO FC
Toronto FC put an end to their winless streak in emphatic fashion, rolling to a 3-0 win against Chivas USA on Sunday afternoon at BMO Field. TFC sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, with 37 points from 28 matches.

LAST MATCH

  • Toronto FC opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. A bit of smart combination play resulted in Jonathan Osorio slipped the ball to Gilberto, who in turn delivered a cheeky back-heel to an onrushing Jackson. He then took a few touches before smacking a deflected shot that beat Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
  • Toronto FC doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time. Michael Bradley swung a corner to the far edge of the box and Nick Hagglund headed the ball back in front of goal, where Luke Moore buried the ball into the back of the net with a full volley from close range.
  • Gilberto got Toronto FC’s third of the day in the 54th minute after a Daniel Lovitz corner was flicked by Bradley toward Steven Caldwell in front of goal. Caldwell let the ball run past to Gilberto, whose easy tap-in provided the final scoreline.
  • Each team ended a man down after referee Edvin Jurisevic sent off TFC's Jackson and Chivas USA's Nigel Reo-Coker when the two players came to blows in the 66th minute.
  • TFC head coach Greg Vanney made four changes to the team that came back for a late 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park. Justin Morrow came into the back four for Ashtone Morgan, and Daniel Lovitz, Jonathan Osorio and Luke Moore came into the team for Warren Creavalle, Kyle Bekker and Dominic Oduro.
  • TORONTO FC (4-3-1-2): Joseph Bendik - Mark Bloom, Nick Hagglund, Steven Caldwell, Justin Morrow - Jackson (ejected 66), Michael Bradley, Daniel Lovitz (Dwayne De Rosario 76) - Jonathan Osorio (Warren Creavalle 68) - Luke Moore (Dominic Oduro 73), Gilberto.

TEAM NEWS

  • Toronto FC put an end to their six-game winless skid with the win against Chivas USA, their first victory since Aug. 9. It was the first victory for head coach Greg Vanney in four starts.
  • “I thought we played well,” Vanney said. “I thought we were, for the most part, in control of the match on both sides of the ball. I thought we were purposeful in our possession, sometimes a little too backwards – I think we could still become a little bit more aggressive and forward thinking.”
  • The victory was also the 10th of the season in league play for TFC, matching the most they’ve had in a season in club history (also: 2009).
  • “You get to this point of the season and you want to feel like you’re hitting your stride,” said midfielder Michael Bradley. “Not only are the results right but you also feel like the play is improving and I think we’ve kind of realized that at this point, both the results and the performances have to go hand in hand. We have no room or ability to compromise one for the other because it’s so tight in our conference. Every point can be so precious. We really feel like, now, in this last stretch, we’re starting to hit our stride. Those three points are very important and the mood and the spirit reflects that.”
  • Gilberto scored his seventh goal of the season; he has a goal and two assists in the last two games, and he has scored five of TFC’s last 12 goals they have scored, dating back to Aug. 2.
  • Jackson scored his fourth goal of the season, his first since July 16, again playing a wide attacking role. But he will be suspended for two matches following a ruling by the MLS Disciplinary Committee after he was sent off after a scuffle with Chivas midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker.
  • “We need all the players to manage their emotions because this is the critical time of the year and we need everybody. I thought he was outstanding in the match and really, really made a difference in the game. It was maybe the best I’ve seen him all year. He looked like he was having a ton of fun and for him to switch like that and get emotionally caught up in the moment was unfortunate,” said Vanney.
  • Jonathan Osorio came back into the team following a two-match absence and filled an attacking midfield role, recording his fourth assist of the season, his first since July 12.
  • Steven Caldwell returned to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 23, just his second appearance over the last 13 matches dating back to mid-July. TFC recorded their first clean sheet since Aug. 2.
  • “He helps put out situations before they even become situations and that is an invaluable thing,” Vanney said. “It was good for him to get through the 90 minutes. We were unsure but because the match went there wasn’t a ton for him to do so he was able to see his way through it. It was good for him to get that under his belt.”

PORTLAND TIMBERS
The Portland Timbers extended their undefeated run to four matches in impressive fashion, rolling to a 3-0 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday afternoon at Providence Park. The Timbers are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 39 points from 29 games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Timbers opened the scoring in the 28th minute. Off a quick restart, Diego Valeri picked a perfect Jorge Villafana cross from the left flank out of the air directly in front of the goal just before it hit turf, hammering a full left-footed volley into the roof of the net.
  • Valeri then unlocked the Whitecaps FC defense in the 66th minute. He set Fanendo Adi free with a through ball from midfield that left the big striker with a one-on-one with Vancouver ‘keeper David Ousted, and Adi sent his shot rolling just inside the left post.
  • The Timbers hit for a third just three minutes later again on the counter, as Adi and Darlington Nagbe teamed up on a Timbers break, Adi finishing it off with a finish between Ousted’s legs from inside the area.
  • Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made one change to the team that came back for a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Will Johnson came back into the team in place of Ben Zemanski.
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Alvas Powell (Michael Harrington 82), Liam Ridgewell, Pa Modou Kah, Jorge Villafana - Diego Chara, Will Johnson - Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Rodney Wallace (Gaston Fernandez 87) - Fanendo Adi (Maximiliano Urruti 72).

TEAM NEWS

  • The Timbers scored three goals for the third time in the last four games, extending their undefeated streak to four games in the victory against Vancouver, their second 3-0 win in the past three weeks against their Cascadia rivals.
  • “Whoever won this game was going to be in the driver’s seat, so we control our fate. We take care of business in the next five then we are going to be in the playoffs, but we’ve got some work to do still,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “I’m really pleased with our performance. This was a pressure game. This is crunch time. I knew that our experience in these situations last year when we got results under pressure was going to be paid off.”
  • Said center back Liam Ridgewell: “It’s huge, it’s big. This is what we’ve been looking towards. We got a clean sheet a couple of weeks back, and we looked to build off that, but a couple of things may have gotten us the last few weeks not to mention any games. … I think this week we showed what we can do.”
  • Diego Valeri scored for a second consecutive game, and has a goal and/or an assist in each of the last four matches, with two goals and five assists in that span.
  • Valeri has scored seven goals and added six assists over the last 12 league contests. He now has 14 assists, tied for second-most in MLS this season behind LA’s Landon Donovan. Valeri led MLS with 13 assists a year ago in his first season in the league. Valeri also equaled the Timbers’ all-time club record, set by John Bain in 1980 in the old North American Soccer League.
  • “He’s been instrumental for us this year,” Porter said. “Obviously, he tied the single-season assist record, took the first goal and that was what for me opened the game up. It was a great finish. And I don’t know if there is anything more I can say about him. He’s in my opinion one of the best players in the league, if not the best.”
  • Fanendo Adi again scored a pair of goals in the Timbers win. Adi has scored eight goals this season, hitting for a brace in four separate games: May 28 vs. Chivas, June 7 vs. Real Salt Lake and Aug. 24 vs. Seattle as well as the win Saturday.
  • “You want an Adi to get a couple of goals. You want Darlington [Nagbe] to have a good game. He got an assist. You want Valeri to produce. He had a goal and an assist. This is what we need,” said Porter. “Hopefully we will just continue to let this roll. I’ll stay out of those guys’ way and we will continue to produce. But the thing that has been lacking at times wasn’t lacking and that was the defending and for me that’s why we won the game.”
  • Will Johnson returned to the Timbers lineup after a one-match absence in league play, as Porter again went with little change in his team. Over the past four league games, he’s started just 13 different players.
  • “It wouldn’t be too smart to change it at this point. … We are in a bit of groove with this lineup,” Porter said. “This lineup does have the right dimensions in terms of team speed, enough technical ability, enough defensive organization and grit. It’s like pieces of the puzzles. I put my hand up there are a few games I haven’t put the puzzle together the right way, but I think we’ve certainly gotten it right recently with this group.”
  • On Tuesday, the Timbers made it three wins from three starts in the CONCACAF Champions League with 6-0 win against Alpha United of Guyana at Providence Park. Norbetto Paparatto scored a pair of goals as five different Timbers netted, as they took control of Group 3.
  • Here’s the Timbers team: Gleeson, Peay, Paparatto, McKenzie, Harrington, O’Rourke, Zemanski, Jewsbury (Wallace, 62), Nanchoff, Fernández (Fochive, 79), Urruti (Adi, 72)
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Current Form

Toronto FC
D
L
L
L
D
W
Portland
D
L
W
D
D
W

Season Stats

Toronto FCPortland Timbers
28Games Played29
10Wins9
11Losses8
7Draws12
39Goals52
43Goals Conceded48
285Shots307
128Shots on Target152
363Fouls committed380
389Fouls suffered443
65Offside84
134Corners148

Goals Scored

01234+TotalAvg
TOR610831391.4
POR48881521.8
01234+Avg
TOR362211.4
POR144512.1
01234+Avg
TOR346101.4
POR344301.5

Goals Conceded

01234+TotalAvg
TOR661231431.5
POR411833481.7
01234+Avg
TOR427101.4
POR262231.9
01234+Avg
TOR245211.7
POR256101.4
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