First Touches 7_30

After a refreshing trip to Texas and another three points earned for Minnesota United, First Touches is happy to see Allianz Field once again as the Portland Timbers come to town for the first time this season. 

  • This will be the first meeting between Minnesota and Portland since the Timbers eliminated the Loons from the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs 3-1 at Providence Park.
  • The Loons have the upper hand historically in the regular season in this matchup, with a 6-3-1 record, including a 5-0-1 record in the clubs’ last six regular season meetings. In addition, Minnesota beat the Timbers in the semifinals of the 2019 U.S. Open Cup.
  • Minnesota has now gone six league fixtures without defeat (5-0-1). In each of the previous three regular seasons, the Loons have had a streak of seven or eight games without loss.
  • Minnesota’s 16 points in their previous six fixtures are the most of any team in the league in that stretch.
  • Including playoffs, the longest undefeated streak in club history extends ten games, a run that took place at the end of the 2020 regular season and ended with the Loons’ defeat in the conference finals.
  • Minnesota stands in third place in the Western Conference after this weekend’s results with 34 points.
  • The Loons beat Houston on Saturday with just 28% possession, by far their lowest number in a game this season.
  • Portland is tied with the LA Galaxy for seventh in the West with 30 points, but sits eighth due to recording fewer wins than the Galaxy.
  • The Timbers nine draws are the most in the Western Conference, and are tied with Philadelphia and Columbus for the most in MLS.
  • Portland has 66 yellow cards as a team this season — the second-most in MLS. The Timbers are tied for the league lead with five red cards.
  • The Timbers have drawn the second-most penalty kicks in the league with seven. They have converted all seven, spread between four different players.
  • Portland is also tied for second in the league with several other teams in headed goals, also with seven.
  • Jarosław Niezgoda leads the Timbers with eight goals on the season, already his highest mark in his three seasons with Portland. Niezgoda’s 17 starts are seven more than he had in 2020 and 2021 combined.
  • Bill Tuiloma’s five goals this season are the most by any defender in the league.
  • Bongokuhle Hlongwane scored his first goal for Minnesota and in MLS in Saturday’s game, in addition to notching his fourth assist of the season. Hlongwane was named to the MLS Team of the Week and was nominated for MLS Player of the Week.
  • Hlongwane now leads the Loons in assists on the season, ahead of Emanuel Reynoso’s three.
  • After making his Minnesota debut in the Loons midweek friendly against Everton, Alan Benítez made his MLS debut in the second half of Saturday’s game.

Minnesota Connections

  • While the Minnesota and Portland squads combine five different Argentinian players (Emanuel Reynoso, Franco Fragapane, Sebastián Blanco, David Ayala and Claudio Bravo), the only two to share a past club are Reynoso and Fragapane (Talleres). Between the five players, they have previously represented seven different Argentinian clubs.
  • Not only have Bill Tuiloma and Michael Boxall been playing together for the New Zealand national team for almost a decade together, they both made their international debuts in the same match, a 4-2 friendly loss to Japan in 2014. Tuiloma and Boxall were both part of the New Zealand team as recently as this year.
  • Luis Amarilla and Christhian Paredes both played for Sol de América in 2016 in Paraguay. Both departed the Paraguayan league before Alan Benítez debuted for Libertad in 2017. Benítez and Paredes were both active for the Paraguayan national team in friendlies in 2017 and 2018, but never at the same time.
  • MNUFC Director of Player Personnel Amos Magee was on Portland Timbers coaching staff from 2009–2013.
  • Jacori Hayes played for the Timbers U23 team during the 2014 season.
  • Sean McAuley played for the pre-MLS Timbers in 2002 and helped manage the Timbers to an MLS Cup in 2015.
  • Cameron Knowles played for the Timbers from 2007-10 and was a coach for the Timbers and Timbers reserves teams from 2012-2018.

MATCH INFO

Minnesota United FC v. Portland Timbers

Allianz Field | St. Paul, Minnesota

07.30.22 | MLS Game 23

2:00 pm CT (ABC, ESPN Deportes, 1500 ESPN)