The Portland Timbers can extend their MLS regular-season unbeaten run at Providence Park versus Dallas to six matches when the two face each other on Sunday.
At the moment, Portland sit 11th in the Western Conference, playing to a 0-0 draw with the Seattle Sounders last Saturday, while Dallas remain in fourth but just two points behind St Louis City for the lead after beating them 2-0 earlier this week.
Beginning on Sunday, the Timbers will play three of their subsequent four MLS affairs at Providence Park with an opportunity to climb above the playoff line.
They are actually a point better than a year ago at this same stage, though you might not know it given their inconsistent form, without consecutive victories all year.
There should not be any issues with continuity given how long the majority of these players have been together, but right now, quality has been a problem, with Portland notching just a single goal in their last four matches combined.
11 of their 17 points this season have come at Providence Park, where historically, they have only ever lost once against the Toros in the regular season.
While Giovanni Savarese’s men have been at their best on home soil, they have also let four points slip through their fingers in front of their fans in 2023.
In the nick of time, The Toros attack came to life on Wednesday, scoring twice in the final 10 minutes as we now have a tight four-horse race for first in the Western Conference.
The Toros were aided by the return of a pair of veterans which helped bolster their attack on Wednesday, and it made a massive difference as they were the aggressors, creating plenty of opportunities in just 40 minutes of play.
On the road, the Dallas attack have often woken up far too late in 2023, with five of its seven away goals coming beyond the 70th minute, though they have won two away games this season, already half as many as they managed a year ago.
Wednesday was the first time in four matches that Nico Estevez’s men had struck first as they remain unbeaten in 2023 when scoring the opening goal.
Though their overall regular-season away record against the Timbers is not great, they were able to snag a point in their previous visit to Providence Park a year ago, drawing 1-1, ending a four-match goalless drought in Portland as a result.
The Timbers will be missing Claudio Bravo this weekend due to a yellow card suspension, Yimmi Chara was out for the Seattle match with pain in his left hamstring, Pablo Bonilla has a sore right hamstring, Eryk Williamson hurt his right knee, while David Ayala and Felipe Mora are dealing with left knee injuries.
Aljaz Ivacic only had to stop one Seattle shot to collect a clean sheet last weekend, while a brace from Evander and a goal by Franck Boli were enough to earn them a 3-1 triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps in their last home victory in this competition despite Zac McGraw firing one into his own goal.
Last year at Providence Park, it was an own-goal which cost them points against the Toros, with Diego Chara the unfortunate recipient deep into stoppage time after Marvin Loria had put them in front only a few minutes prior and the match ultimately ending 1-1.
Paul Arriola was back in the Dallas lineup on Wednesday after previously missing time with a sore thigh, Sebastian Lletget also returned from a thigh problem, Ema Twumasi missed another encounter because of an ankle sprain, while Tarik Scott is out for the remainder of the season.
Jesus Ferreira tied Kenny Cooper for the second-most goals in Dallas’ history, notching his 46th on Wednesday, while Marco Farfan has a long way to go to catch him, putting home just the second of his MLS career.
When they met Portland in Frisco earlier this year, the Toros thought they had won it when a 74th-minute strike by Facundo Quignon put them up 1-0, only to have Boli equalise with his first as a Timber in stoppage time.
Portland Timbers possible starting lineup:
Ivacic; Miller, Zuparic, McGraw, Rasmussen; D. Chara, Paredes; Moreno, Evander, Asprilla; Boli
Dallas possible starting lineup:
Paes; Jesus, Ibeagha, Martinez, Farfan; Pomykal, Quignon, Cerrillo; Velasco, Ferreira, Jimenez