Coming off their second road win of the season the Dynamo will play the Timbers at BBVA this weekend. As the regular season is winding down Portland is in good position for postseason play but they’ll need to keep it tight in their final four games to secure a playoff berth.
The Timbers will have a tough go of it in Houston especially considering their road struggles this season. The Dynamo have defended their home turf well despite their scoring struggles. While the wins just haven’t come for the home team they’ve only allowed 2 losses at BBVA, and both of those were to league heavies FC Dallas and the LAG. Owner of the league's worst road record at 0-6-8, Portland will need to find a way to earn some points in their final four games of the regular season. Trouble is three of those will be on the road against some tough home teams. Hot on the Timbers heels are SKC and Seattle who each have more favorable schedules and could easily bump Portland out of the playoff picture. This should add some impetus to the play of Darlington Nagbe and co. Although the club has struggled to find a road win, that hasn’t been reflective of the play of dynamic scorers Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi. The pair has combined for 6 goals in their last five matches to go along with a pair of assists. The Dynamo will certainly have their hands full trying to contain this attack.
Good thing the Dynamo have maintained their stingy defensive play. The return of DaMarcus Beasley has also provided some relief to a back line that has been stretched thin due to injuries. The team will use the remaining games this season to try and build some positive momentum heading into the offseason when some changes are expected to be made. Wade Barrett has made some comments that indicate we will continue to see the team try to make improvements with what’s currently available, meaning we’re likely to see maintained focus on defense with familiar players. It’s understandable considering the success Barrett has fostered on defense, the lack of scoring options, and the fact he is still an interim coach and trying to earn a promotion to a full time head coach. Luckily with only two forwards on the roster we are getting to see plenty of young Mauro Manotas who could be a major key for the team in the future. After getting the last three starts it would be encouraging to see him get another. The Portland defense has a knack of obliging opposing forwards, allowing more goals than any other Western conference team save one. The vets in the midfield will have to play sharp with Nagbe on the field for Portland but Alex, Clark and Warner should be up to the task.
Is it possible for this team to end the season on a good note? Possibly, but they’ll need to pull themselves out of last place to truly put something positive on this season. It’s going to be tough with upcoming games against some of the stronger sides in MLS, but this match with Portland will be a great opportunity to continue the momentum from the RSL win.
The match will kickoff at 8:00 pm CT on Saturday, Sept. 24.