The Portland Timbers are in town this weekend and Houston are ready to defend their home field and unbeaten home record. Houston and Portland are sitting 3rd and 4th, respectively in the Western Conference standings heading into the weekend.
The two teams faced each other the third week of the MLS season in a road game that Houston lost 4-2. Both of the teams traded goals that were scored off of penalty kicks. Houston went into halftime with a 2-1 lead in the game. They played a terrible second half which saw them give up 3 unanswered goals. It was the first loss of the 2017 season for the Dynamo and kicked off their struggles to get points on the road.
Houston’s struggles on the road continued until last weekend when Houston finally got that pesky zero-wins-on-the-road-this-season off their backs. With a 3-1 win over DC United, the Dynamo should be flying high as they return home. They scored three goals in the first seventeen minutes of the game. While they dominated the scoreboard they only had 34.2% possession in the game.
Portland for their part had a 2-1 victory on the road over the Vancouver Whitecaps. The Timbers were short on players as they were missing six roster players to injury, four to international duty, and two to suspensions. Portland lost the possession battle only hanging on to the ball 46.9% of the game. The win was a big confidence builder after they had lost 4-1 to Real Salt Lake in a midweek game.
International absences over
The Gold Cup concluded on Wednesday night with a victory for the USMNT which means all teams should have their players back from international duty. Having all the players back doesn’t mean that each of them will be ready to take on starting minutes.
Houston had spent the tournament without Cubo Torres who was playing for Mexico as well as Boniek Garcia, Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto who were all away with Honduras. Neither squad made it to the final but this will be their first game back since being eliminated from the tournament. Portland has been short four players that will return now that the tournament is over. However, Darlington Nagbe played in the Gold Cup Final for the USMNT on Wednesday night as did Darren Mattocks and Alvas Powell for Jamaica, and may not be up to run a full 90 against the Dynamo.
On July 17 the Dynamo announced they had signed Tomas Martinez. On Monday, the midfielder had his first training session with the team. Head coach Wilmer Cabrera has said that Martinez will need to earn earn his spot on the field while many fans expect him to be the long awaited true number 10 for the team.
For Portland’s part they signed Bill Tuiloma, a defensive midfielder and centerback, during the transfer window. He regularly plays for the New Zealand national team and Olympique de Marseille’s second team. Between international absences and injuries the Timbers needed to bring in more depth to the team.
Things kick off at BBVA Compass Stadium at 7 pm CT on Saturday night.