Portland Timbers Primed for MLS Semifinal Round in the West
Portland Timbers vs Houston Dynamo Picks
Western Conference champions Portland will take on an in-form Houston in this crucial clash, and it really is a tough one to pick. The match will be played over two legs, starting with Sunday night's game in Houston and followed by the return fixture in Portland on Sunday, November 5th. We discuss the chances of each team, provide our fearless prediction and an in-depth analysis of each team - make sure you read this before placing a wager!
Two of the most exciting teams in the MLS coming together in a semi-final sure makes for a difficult pick. The Timbers will be well rested ahead of this tie, while the Dynamo will have momentum on their side as they look to reach the Western Conference final.
So which side will emerge victorious after the two matches?
We're sticking with Portland for this one. While the BBVA Compass Stadium was one of the hardest places to gain points in the MLS this season, the Timbers managed to leave with a draw and we are banking on them earning another positive result.
This will leave them with a simple return fixture against a side that picked up just ten points on the road in 2017. Portland are also relatively injury-free, and the benefit of an eight day break will tell in the first leg on Monday night. Go for the Timbers here.
Portland Timbers vs Houston Dynamo Preview
There is an infectious atmosphere in Houston right now - a state of optimism and excitement that can only be created by the success of a local sports franchise. Houston are back in the semi-finals of the MLS Playoffs for the first time since 2013, and in case you've been living under a rock, the Astros are in the middle of a World Series campaign against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and they're more than making up for their 4-0 loss in the Fall Classic in 2005.
Do not underestimate the impact other codes can have on a sport - there are plenty of examples where a city sees all of its teams experiencing success at the same time. Look at Toronto for example. In 2013/14 the only team to make the playoffs was the Toronto Raptors, but in the years that followed the Blue Jays, Toronto FC and even the Maple Leafs became playoff teams. The Dynamo can definitely ride on the coattails of the Astros.
The first leg of this tie will be played in Houston, just a day after the fifth World Series match, and it's perfect timing for the Dynamo, who will need a solid performance at home to have any chance of progressing to the Conference Final. They will certainly go into the first leg as favourites; Houston are coming off four straight victories at the BBVA Compass Stadium, including their 1-0 triumph over a stubborn Sporting Kansas City.
As always, it will be a case of momentum against rest in this semi-final showdown. Houston played 120 minutes of intense, sudden-death football on Thursday night, so fatigue may be a factor going into Monday night's game. Conversely, the Portland Timbers have the advantage of an eight day rest, which may even be enough time for striker Fanendo Adi to recover from his hamstring issue - he is currently questionable ahead of the first leg.
Adi's injury is the only real concern for a Portland side who look to have found form and fitness at exactly the right time in the season, and they will go into the two matches against Houston with plenty of confidence. With just three defeats in their last thirteen matches, including an undefeated streak at home for this period, Portland are a team that has got used to winning, and will be difficult to dispatch, particularly at Providence Park.
So who is the more likely to emerge victorious over the two legs in this tie? Home and away form will certainly play a factor, as each team has a chance to make an impact in front of their home fans. Let's take a look at some of the statistics from the 2017 season to date, and also explore the head to head record between the Timbers and the Dynamo.
The Timbers finished atop a very tight Western Conference ladder on the back of an attack that scored more goals than any other team in the division - sixty to be exact. Of those, 38, or just over two per match, came at Providence Park, helping them to eleven wins from seventeen starts at a ground that saw just two losses during 2017.
Their attack was well led by talisman Diego Valeri, who was the league's third-highest goal scorer with 21 during the regular season - just over one-third of the team's total. He scored thirteen at home and also hit the back of the net eight times on the road, and his ability to jag a crucial away goal at Houston on Monday could well turn the tie in Portland's favour. He can also pick out a pass - he leads the Timbers in assists with eleven.
Portland will also fancy their chances of picking up a positive result when they travel to Houston, as they were one of the best teams away from home in the Western Conference this season. Second only to the LA Galaxy for points gained on the road (that's right, the worst overall team in the MLS), Portland managed four wins and four draws in seventeen matches.
While we're on the subject of away form, we should probably mention that Houston's was one of the worst in the league in 2017. While the team managed to grind out seven draws during the campaign, they only took all three points in one fixture all season - a 3-1 win at lowly DC United. They managed just 14 goals on the road, and will need to address this leading into the second leg of this tie.
Thankfully for the Dynamo, you get to play as many games at home as you do away in the MLS, and they finished the regular season with the second best record in the league, taking 40 points from a possible 51, scoring 43 goals and only conceding 17. Houston recorded 12 wins and just one defeat at the BBVA Compass Stadium all season, and after yet another win against Sporting during the week, you wouldn't back against them on Monday.
Unlike the Timbers, the goal-scoring threat from the Dynamo comes from practically all over the field. Erick Torres tops the list in 2017 with 14 goals, while he's had plenty of assistance from Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis who both scored ten during the regular season (Elis also scored the 94th minute goal that saw them defeat Kansas City).
Head to Head Record
This will be the first ever meeting between the two clubs in the MLS Playoffs. The two sides have played against each other on twelve occasions previously and their record is dead even - they have each won four games, shared the points four times and have each scored nineteen goals in the process.
Portland have the upper hand this season, winning the first match between the sides 4-2 back in March (Valeri scored a double for the Timbers), while the return fixture in Houston ended in a 1-1 stalemate. Portland have never won at the BBVA Compass stadium in six attempts (three draws), while Houston have only won once at Providence Park.
Houston and Portland will contest over two matches, so there are several different betting options available. You will be able to place a bet on each individual match as you normally would, with all three full-time results (win, loss and draw) available.
Most sportsbooks will also allow you to place a wager on which team will progress to the next round - this will be a simple head-to-head bet with only two outcomes.
Make sure you take a look at all of our betting partners and explore the lines on offer. As always, we will keep you up to date with all the latest and provide ongoing support.
Category : SoccerMore articles...
They outscored Pacific FC 3-2, avenging a 3-1 loss suffered in the spring season finale. But things didn't go as swimmingly for spring runners up Forge FC. They were toppled 2-1 by Edmonton FC.
The MLS action continues this weekend with all three Canadian teams involved in crucial fixtures. First up will be Toronto FC who is the all-Canadian clash between fierce rivals Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, immediately followed by the Vancouver Whitecaps hosting Sporting Kansas City.