Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Philadelphia Union vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS Regular Season
Talen Energy Stadium – Chester, Pa.
Saturday, April 8 – 7 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
The Philadelphia Union will be happy to return home after playing three of their first four games on the road — and failing to win any of them. But they likely won't be too happy with the opponent as they're set to face a Portland Timbers team that currently sits atop the Western Conference.
After picking up two straight draws to start the season, the Union (0-2-2) have since lost their last two to fall to the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings — a 2-1 loss to Orlando followed by a defeat by the same scoreline to rival D.C. United last week. The Union were burned by what head coach Jim Curtin called "two self-inflicted mistakes" vs. D.C., but he was still pleased by the pressure they applied in the second half.
"This league is too strong and there’s too much talent to spot teams two goals," Curtin said after the match. "I know this group; the performances are not indicative of the point total that we are on right now."
The Timbers, meanwhile, are probably quite happy with their point total of 10, tied for the best mark in MLS. But they're coming off a less-than-desirable result in their last outing — a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution, who stunned the Providence Park crowd with a late equalizer. The Timbers (3-1-1) are now winless in their last two following a perfect 3-0-0 start.
"We were obviously disappointed to give up the late goal," Portland head coach Caleb Porter said. "Never looked like we would, and that is something in this sport that we have all been through."
But the Union defense has looked shaky at times and could be in even more trouble against Portland's daunting attack if reliable center back Richie Marquez misses time with a head injury. He exited last week's game with concussion-like symptoms, leading to a surprising MLS debut for 2017 fourth-round pick Jack Elliott.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: Joshua Yaro (shoulder surgery), Maurice Edu (left ankle/left tibia surgery); QUESTIONABLE: John McCarthy (concussion); Richie Marquez (concussion-like symptoms)
Projected starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Andre Blake - Keegan Rosenberry, Oguchi Onyewu, Jack Elliott, Fabinho — Haris Medunjanin, Derrick Jones — Ilsinho, Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius — Jay Simpson
Notes: Going back to last season, the Union have only won once in their last 12 regular-season games (seven losses, four draws) ... Haris Medunjanin leads the league in chances created with 13.
Few players are as hot as Diego Valeri right now, who garnered MVP buzz after scoring his fifth goal of the season with a stunning volley that's up for AT&T Goal of the Week. Valeri, who's currently second in the Golden Boot race behind Houston's Cubo Torres, now has 42 goals for the Timbers, which is just three shy of teammate Fanendo Adi and John Bain for all-time tally for goals across all eras of the franchise.
Rookie left back Marco Farfan still hasn't scored any goals in his burgeoning MLS career. But the teenager enjoyed a home debut to remember last week — a performance good enough to land him on the MLS Team of the Week and give Timbers fans even more to get excited about this season and beyond.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT - DF Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles tear); QUESTIONABLE - DF Liam Ridgewell (foot injury), DF Vytas Andriuskevicius (calf strain, day-to-day)
Projected starting XI (4-2-3-1, right to left): Jake Gleeson – Alvas Powell, Lawrence Olum, Roy Miller, Marco Farfan – David Guzman, Diego Chara – Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe – Fanendo Adi
Notes: Portland has only won one away game since the start of the 2016 regular season (12 losses, six draws). They have only kept three clean sheets in that stretch, with an average of 1.8 goals conceded per game. ... Alvas Powell leads the league with 21 tackles.
The Union have only won once in seven games against the Timbers, and it was the only game in which the Union scored multiple goals vs. Portland — a 3-0 victory on July 11, 2015. But the Timbers have never scored a goal in three games at the Union's home stadium.
- Overall: Philadelphia 1 win (6 goals) … Portland 3 wins (7 goals) … Ties 3
- At Philadelphia: Philadelphia 1 win (3 goals) … Portland 0 wins (0 goals) .. Ties 2
- Referee: Robert Sibiga
- Assistant Referees: Adam Wienckowski, Kyle Longville
- Fourth Official: Jorge Gonzalez