Minnesota United FC vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Minnesota United FC vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS Regular Season
TCF Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, Minnesota
Wednesday, June 21 – 8:00 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
After a brief late-spring renaissance, things have taken a downturn in Minnesota.
The expansion club have perhaps the thinnest roster in all of MLS, and, with the schedule starting to get a bit congested as the summer moves along, their lack of depth is starting to show. The Loons have lost four of their last five in MLS play and five of their last six in all competitions, and are coming off of a week that saw them fall 4-0 at Sporting Kansas City in the US Open Cup before being thoroughly outplayed in a 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
“I don’t think there’s a guy in this dressing room that would tell you that that was a good enough performance from any of us,” goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth said after Saturday’s defeat in Utah. “It’s a terrible goal to give away for me. We weren’t good enough in possession. Not dangerous enough going to goal. I don’t think you’re going to find one guy who will tell you that’s good enough.”
Things won’t get any easier this week, as Minnesota welcome a talented Timbers team to the Twin Cities on Wednesday before hosting Vancouver on Saturday. While they have a stable of attacking stars, Portland haven’t really been able to get into gear this season. That crystallized on Saturday, when they followed up back-to-back home wins by coughing up a 1-0 lead and conceding a late goal to fall 2-1 at the Colorado Rapids.
The second half was particularly poor for Portland, who completely controlled and could’ve put the game away if not for some poor finishing during the opening 45 minutes.
“We came out again with confidence in this game,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said after Saturday’s match. “We had won two in a row. It looked like it was going to be three. The message at halftime was we need to continue to push and do what we were doing in the first half to get the second goal. But, human nature kicked in.
“A few guys got complacent, a few guys at the back on the first goal, and we got punished for it. We have to learn from it because if you let your guard down, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing in this league – you’ll get punished every single time, and that happened today.”
Minnesota United FC
If there’s a silver lining in Minnesota’s recent slump, it’s that most of it has occurred on the road. Of their five losses in their last six games across all competitions, four have been away from home. Their lone win in the stretch – a 1-0 victory over Orlando on May 27 – came in the friendly confines of TCF Bank Stadium.
Though they’re the only team in MLS with a points-per-game average under 1.0, the Loons have actually been decent in Minnesota, posting a 4-3-0 record at TCF Bank Stadium. After their lackluster outing at Salt Lake, head coach Adrian Heath will be looking for a bit of home cooking this week, first against Portland and again vs. Vancouver on Saturday.
“Like a lot of teams in this league, we find it difficult to win on the road,” Heath told reporters on Monday. “I don’t think it’s ever been more apparent, the difference between home and away for a lot of teams. And we’ve certainly fallen into that category.”
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT - D Marc Burch (adductor injury), D Vadim Demidov (left knee), M Bernardo Anor (left lower leg), D/M Thomas De Villardi (left Achilles), D Joe Greenspan (concussion)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Bobby Shuttleworth – Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, Justin Davis – Sam Cronin, Ibson – Abu Danladi, Kevin Molino, Miguel Ibarra – Christian Ramirez
Saturday’s result was far from ideal, but the Timbers did have a bright spot in the form of Sebastian Blanco. The Designated Player has gotten off to a bit of a slow start this year, recording just one goal and three assists in his first 14 MLS appearances. He was plenty dangerous at Colorado, however, scoring a lovely goal in the 18th minute and nearly scoring a second in both the 39th and 49th.
Assuming he features on Wednesday – there are questions whether Porter will rotate his squad ahead of Sunday’s Heineken Rivalry Week match at home against Seattle – Portland will expect Blanco to play a big role against a Minnesota side that’s conceded the second-most goals in MLS this year.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – D Liam Ridgewell (left quad strain), M Jack Barmby (ankle sprain), D Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles tear), D Chance Myers (hamstring injury); QUESTIONABLE – F Darren Mattocks (adductor injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jake Gleeson – Alvas Powell, Roy Miller, Lawrence Olum, Vytas – David Guzman, Diego Chara – Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco – Fanendo Adi
This is the second meeting between the sides and the first in Minnesota. Portland won the first matchup, scoring three goals in the final 10 minutes to defeat Minnesota 5-1 at Providence Park in the 2017 MLS season opener.
Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Jeffrey Hosking
Fourth Official: Fotis Bazakos