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Portland Timbers vs. Minnesota United FC

Providence Park | Portland, Oregon

09.10.2022 | MLS Week No. 30 | MLS Game 30

9:00 p.m. CT (MLS LIVE on ESPN+, Bally Sports North EXTRA, The CW - Twin Cities, 1500 ESPN)

It’s time for the rematch we’ve all been waiting for, as Minnesota United are traveling to the Beaver State to take on the Portland Timbers this Saturday. After the 4-4 thriller at Allianz Field earlier this season, fans will be expecting another exciting showing. However, with these teams trending in opposite directions, it’s anyone’s guess what we’ll see unfold on the pitch. One thing is for sure though; sparks always fly when these two clash.

Minnesota United - 

Run of Form: W-W-W-L-L

All it takes is one game for fortunes to change. After a busy week that resulted in two 3-0 losses for Minnesota United, there is a bitter taste overtaking the sweet sensations left by their previously impressive form. In the last five games, MNUFC have beaten two playoff teams in impressive fashion, only to end up losing to two different playoff teams a few weeks on. Perhaps this is simply a dip in form like the Portland and Colorado games in weeks 23 and 24, or perhaps it is something more. Their recent inability to score has seemingly come out of nowhere, while the dropoff in defense could be explained by the absence of Bakaye Dibassy. Regardless of the source of MNUFC’s problems, they will have to figure out the solutions relatively quickly, as another busy week lies ahead. With the regular season coming to a close, finding form this weekend will be more important than ever for the Loons.

Portland Timbers - 

Run of Form: L-L-W-W-W

On the other side of the coin, Portland has been headed in the opposite direction. Following consecutive losses to a revitalized Toronto side and an SKC team that briefly remembered how to play soccer, the Timbers have put together a good run. Three 2-1 victories in a row have seen them down Austin, Atlanta and their bitter rivals, Seattle. They’ve found a way to score in each of their last 16 games, with Philadelphia being the last team to hold them scoreless way back in May. This has been a season of almost’s for Portland, as their 12 draws are the most of any team in the Western Conference. If they can keep turning those draws into wins, this team will be dangerous come playoff time, as they have done so many times before.

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Keys to the Match

Beat it Blanco:

What’s this guy's deal? Apparently, knocking MNUFC out of the playoffs last year wasn’t enough for Sebastián Blanco. The Argentinian forward has scored four goals in his last two games against the Loons, including two nails in the coffin of Minnesota United’s 2021 season. It took him just 13 seconds to put his side ahead at Allianz Field in July this season, and he didn’t stop there, adding another goal in the 50th minute. If the Loons want to stand any chance of winning at Providence Park, they will have to find a way to shut down the little playmaker before he adds to his growing tally against Minnesota’s team. 

Sooner Rather than Later:

Since the loss of Bakaye Dibassy to injury, Minnesota United have looked like a different team. For most of the season, the pairing between he and Michael Boxall was the rock upon which the entire team stood. With that foundation suddenly ripped out from under them, it is clear that a new approach is needed, and the sooner it comes, the better. It looks like Boxall will be lining up next to Brent Kallman moving forward, so look for that relationship to strengthen and solidify. After conceding three goals in two consecutive games together, MNUFC will be hoping that this weekend's match sees a step up in effectiveness from this new center back pairing. 

Score a Dang Goal:

Even if the issues in the back can be fixed, there’s still another elephant sitting in the corner. MNUFC haven’t scored anything other than an own goal in their last 186 minutes of play, a problem that will only be exacerbated by Franco Fragapane’s impending suspension against Portland. In his absence, it’s time for Mender Garcia to show the Minnesota faithful what he’s made of. Another threat on the wings would be a great asset for the Loons, but only if they can add a finishing touch to Garcia’s blazing speed. Portland has allowed 47 goals this season, more than any other Western Conference team occupying a playoff spot. There will be space to run into, MNUFC’s forwards simply need to take advantage of it.