Two out of the remaining four undefeated MLS squads will face up this Saturday in Portland when the Dynamo face the Timbers. The Dynamo are starting off 2-0-0 for only the second time in their history and another win will be new territory for the club. Portland has the wins but has looked a little shaky and is already a little beat up in the early season.
The Dynamo attack looked even better in match #2 than in the opener. The trio up top doesn’t even look to be near their ceiling either. Props must be given to Cubo Torres for overcoming what has been a tough scoring drought ever since he joined the club in 2015. Two goals in the opening two matches. But behind the attack has been Alex Lima, doing what he does best and not making much noise about it either. He leads the team in assists and continues to be the heart of the midfield, playing with energy that lingers in every ball he touches. He earned MOTM honors last week against Columbus for serving up two of those assists in killer fashion. Juan David Cabezas made his debut in relief of Eric Alexander and brought a toughness that none of the other midfielders possess, save perhaps Boniek Garcia. The midfield played a bit better overall but still the Dynamo lost the possession battle 60:40. It’ll be a challenge to improve that to 50% but they’ll need to make up some ground. The defensive play has been a little worrying, particularly when the opposition gets behind the midfield. Columbus had several chances to score midway through the first half but were stymied by several clutch saves from Tyler Deric. And then the only goal allowed on the night came on a pretty sloppy corner defense in the final seconds of stoppage time while the Crew were down to 10 after a Jonathan Mensah red card sendoff. Definitely concerning but this early in the season and with several new starters it’s too soon to raise any alarms.
Portland is also the winner of their first two but the resume actually isn’t as impressive as the Dynamo’s. Their opener was a 5-1 blasting of Minnesota United FC, who is showing early signs of being completely outmatched in their first MLS season. The Timbers then went on to get a win at LA, but that was against a 10-man Galaxy team for the majority of the match. The Timbers are also hurting. Star defender Liam Ridgewell will miss this game due to a foot injury and left back Vytas is questionable as is DM David Guzman. Despite this the team is a tough out at home due to the rabid fans & atmosphere, and with Nagbe and Fanendo Adi on the field the Dynamo midfield and defense will be tested.
Struggling defenses and dynamic offenses should be the story line of this match. This one is going to be tough for the Dynamo to snag a W. The good thing about the counterattacking nature of the Dynamo offense is it’ll keep you in any game anywhere. But if the midfield allows Nagbe to control the game it’s going to be a long day for the Orange.
Date: March 18, 2017; 9:30 pm CST
Location: Providence Park, Portland, OR
Last Meeting: September 24, 2016 (3-1 Houston, MLS)