MNUFC vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS
Allianz Stadium | St. Paul
07.30.2022 | MLS Week No. 23 | MLS Game No. 23
2:00 p.m. CT (MLS Live on ESPN+, ABC and 1500 ESPN)
The Loons kept their unbeaten streak alive with a 2-1 win over the Dynamo on Saturday. What began as a deadlocked 0-0 match turned around in the final seconds of the first half when Franco Fragapane scored off of a Bongokuhle Hlongwane assist. In the 72nd minute, Bongi doubled his contribution and scored the game winning goal with a perfectly struck shot – not bad for a first MLS goal. Houston was hungry to answer and Fafà Picault was able to sneak one past St. Clair in the 85th minute to keep the home team within reach of a draw. Picault's goal proved to be too little too late, and MNUFC took home their three points. This week, MNUFC will be returning to Allianz Field to face the Portland Timbers for the first time since the 2022 preseason. Over the years, the boys in Black and Blue have emerged victorious in seven of their 11 meetings with the boys from Rose City. However, history doesn't dictate the future, and both teams are currently looking to continue their extensive unbeaten streaks. Despite being five spots ahead of this weekend's competition, only four points separate the Timbers and the Loons. With a tightly contested Western Conference, Minnesota United will need to make sure they keep their foot on the gas to snap Portland's streak and secure a spot in the postseason. MORE
OPPONENT BREAKDOWN - PORTLAND TIMBERS
With both of these teams playing fantastic soccer recently, this game is all but guaranteed to be one of MLS’ best matches this week. A surging Minnesota will have to try to cope with a long list of injuries, a tall order even when you aren’t playing one of the league’s hottest teams. On top of that, there’s a bit of history here. For any Loons who were around for last year’s playoff loss, there will surely be an added edge to this game, as if this one needed anything else to spice it up. MORE
Adrian Heath on the season the Portland Timbers have been having…
“They’re starting to come into a better form. Got really good players. Doesn’t matter who they put on there. You’ve got both Chara’s [Diego Chara and Yimmi Chara]. Now you got Blanco [Sebastian Blanco] [Jaroslaw] Niezgoda starting to get a goal. Asprilla [Dairon Asprilla] came in and got a goal at the weekend. Our games against them are normally pretty feisty stuff and I don’t expect it to be any different. I actually personally think it’s probably our biggest rivalry. It just seems different when we play them whether it be home and away. It’s something we’ll be looking forward to.” MORE
Nabilai Kibunguchy on players from Portland that stand out…
“Definitely their captain Diego Chara. Someone who I’ve watched in the last, I don’t know how long he’s been around, but I’ve watched him a lot. He’s the engine. He runs their team up and down the field, so definitely one to watch for us because he controls what they do. As well as Sebastian Blanco. He controls their attack and really can pick a pass and it’s important to be on him at all times and know where he is. Those are two players, I think.” MORE
STORYLINES PRESENTED BY BMW
TWO TREE TERROR: Portland’s streak has included a few notable results, including a 3-0 demolition of their hated rivals in Seattle. However, that result is just one of two Portland wins on the road this season; the Timbers have two road draws during their undefeated streak, and beyond those games, the Timbers’ lone other win on the road was in April in Vancouver. During the current run, the Timbers have found inspiration from a two-pronged goal threat, and not the names you might expect from Timbers games of the past. Jarosław Niezgoda, who leads Portland with eight goals on the season, and Dairon Asprilla, tied for second with five of his own, have led Portland’s most recent charge. In three of Portland’s previous four games, both Asprilla and Niezgoda have scored, leading to seven Portland points. In Asprilla’s case, he’s now scored in each of his last three appearances, with a game-winning header sealing the home victory for the Timbers on Saturday. While old nemesis Sebastián Blanco still exists (in case you’ve forgotten, Blanco scored a brace to knock Minnesota out of the playoffs last year), Asprilla and Niezgoda are the form threats that the Loons will need to neutralize. MORE
- Minnesota’s 16 points in their previous six fixtures are the most of any team in the league in that stretch.
- Minnesota stands in third place in the Western Conference after this weekend’s results with 34 points.
- 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.
- Jacori Hayes played for the Timbers U23 team during the 2014 season.
- 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. MORE