Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers celebrates a goal

Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS Regular Season - Week 4
MAPFRE Stadium - Columbus, OH
Saturday, March 25 - 7:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE, Root Sports NW, CW Columbus, Spectrum Sports OH, BCSN2

It's hard not to view any matchup between Columbus and Portland as a replay of the infamous 2015 MLS Cup final – especially when both sides spent most of 2016 chasing the glory that got them there. But plenty has happened since that final, and since the disappointing end to last year for both sides.

Coming into Saturday's match at MAPFRE Stadium, the Timbers are enjoying an offensive renaissance led by fan-favorite Diego Valeri. Crew SC are riding high, too, coming off of a 2-0 trouncing of D.C. United. They'll also enjoy a noisy home-field advantage thanks to the Nordecke supporters' section – which, rumor has it, will feature capos for the first time ever this weekend. Dramatic!

Columbus Crew SC vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Week4_CLBvsPOR(FORMATTED).png?qjZOfInTAVMn.aGCmi0whfhjIxBKfVzJ

Columbus Crew SC

Columbus trounced D.C. United 2-0 during their last outing, in part thanks to striker Ola Kamara, who converted a penalty kick to give him goals in back-to-back games and move him to 18 strikes in just 28 appearances in his Crew SC career. He'll need to keep the good form rolling against the dangerous Timbers in order for Columbus, who have lost just twice in their previous 17 regular season home matches (6-2-9), to pick up their second-straight win. 

Projected Starting XI (3-4-2-1): Zack Steffen (GK) — Josh Williams (D), Alex Crognale (D), Nicolai Naess (D) — Harrison Afful (M), Artur (M), Wil Trapp (M), Ethan Finlay (M) – Federico Higuain (M), Justin Meram (M) – Ola Kamara (F)

Notes: Columbus' two penalty goals in their win at D.C. last weekend marked just the sixth time since the start of the 2015 season that an MLS team has scored two penalty goals in the same regular season match.

Portland Timbers

We've already mentioned Diego Valeri's monster early-season success, but he's far from the only Timber that will give Columbus cause for concern on Saturday. Fanendo Adi is one of the top strikers in all of MLS, and already boasts three goals, one assist and eight shots on target – tops in the league – this year. New Designated Player Sebastian Blanco is a real talent on the wing, too. Will it matter for Portland that midfielders David Guzman and Darlington Nagbe are out on international duty? Crew SC had better hope so.

  • Suspended:None
  • Int’l Duty: David Guzman (CRC - WCQ); Darlington Nagbe (US - WCQ)
  • Injury Report: D Gbenga Arokoyo (OUT -- Achilles tear, out for season); D Liam Ridgewell (OUT -- foot injury); Vytas (QUESTIONABLE - calf strain)

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Jake Gleeson (GK) — Alvas Powell (D), Lawrence Olum (D), Roy Miller (D), Zarek Valentin (D) — Diego Chara (M), Ben Zemanski (M) — Sebastian Blanco (M), Diego Valeri (M), Darren Mattocks (M)  – Fanendo Adi (F)

Notes: Portland's 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy in Week 2 snapped a 17-game away winless streak that spanned the entire 2016 regular season (0-11-6).

All-Time Series

Columbus and Portland have only met seven times during the regular MLS season, with no clear advantage for either club.

  • Overall (seven matches): Columbus Crew SC 2 wins (7 goals) … Portland Timbers 3 wins (8 goals) … 2 Ties
  • At MAPFRE Stadium (four matches): Columbus Crew SC 3 wins (3 goals) … Portland Timbers 1 win (2 goals) … 0 Ties


Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Assistant Referees: Jason White (bench side), Craig Lowry (far side)
Fourth Official: Sorin Stoica