FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers | 2018 Knockout Round Preview

FC Dallas vs. Portland Timbers
Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs — Knockout Round

Toyota Stadium — Frisco, Texas
October 31 — 9:30 pm ET
WATCH: UniMás, TVAS, TSN, ESPN+

FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers are looking to bounce back from MLS Decision Day presented by AT&T losses when the Western Conference foes meet in the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round on Wednesday night at Toyota Park in Frisco.

FC Dallas fell to fourth place in the Western Conference following a stunning 2-1 loss to the Colorado Rapids, while the Timbers held on to the No. 5 seed despite a 2-1 defeat to the Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place.

The teams shared the points in both regular-season meetings. Two minutes into the second half, Sebastian Blanco canceled out Roland Lamah’s 36th-minute strike in a 1-1 draw at Toyota Stadium on March 24, which was followed by a 0-0 stalemate at Providence Park on September 29.

This is the second postseason matchup between FC Dallas and Portland, with the Timbers prevailing 5-3 on aggregate in the 2015 Western Conference Championship.

FC Dallas

A few weeks removed from sitting atop the Western Conference, FC Dallas ended the regular season with their third-straight defeat — the club's longest streak of the regular season — falling to the Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Dom Badji picked up an assist against his former club, setting up Maxi Urruti to put the visitors in front in the 18th minute, but 17-year-old Homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett leveled in the 80th minute and Tommy Smith scored the decisive goal 4 minutes later as the Rapids end a forgettable season on an uptick, going 2-0-1 in their last three.

It was a surprising second-half defensive breakdown for an FC Dallas side that has been organized in that department for much of the season. Now, instead of a bye into the Western Conference Semifinal series, FC Dallas has to meet the Timbers on Wednesday in the Knockout Round. They do so, though, at home — where they were 10-2-5 this season.

“It was a good first half, but the second half wasn’t good at all for us. We gave up two goals from situations that we controlled,” Oscar Pareja. “First, it’s just to get our heads in the right place. This is a result that’s hard to absorb.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Kris Reaves (left foot stress fracture), F - Cristian Colman (torn ACL)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Jesse Gonzalez — Reggie Cannon, Matt Hedges, Reto Ziegler, Marquinhos Pedroso — Victor Ulloa, Carlos Gruezo — Michael Barrios, Maxi Urruti, Roland Lamah — Dom Badji

  • Notes: FC Dallas had six different players create 30-plus chances this season, the most in a single season for the club since the start of the 2010 campaign. … FC Dallas have lost three straight – their longest losing streak since 2016 – getting outscored 6-1 in the process. They are 3-0-2 all-time at home in the postseason.

Portland Timbers

After back-to-back wins over Real Salt Lake to clinch a playoff berth, the Timbers ended the regular season with a loss, falling to the Whitecaps, 2-1, at BC Place on Sunday.

In his final match for the ‘Caps before heading off to Bayern Munich, Alphonso Davies struck twice in a three-minute span midway through the first half to put the hosts in front, 2-0. Andres Flores pulled Portland to within a goal in the 90th minute on a rebound, but an equalizer could not be found in stoppage time.

Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese opted for a rotated roster against the Whitecaps, a decision he defended afterward. It means he should have fresh legs at Toyota Stadium despite the short turnaround.

“We made the right choice,” Savarese said. “That doesn’t mean that we are happy that we lost, 2-1. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t want to win. We wanted to win. We wanted to play at home regardless, but we did it with this group and we felt that we could’ve won with this group. Nevertheless, they fought and unfortunately we lost 2-1. But the decision, it was the right one from our part.” 

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D - Roy Miller (right thigh injury), GK - Jake Gleeson (bilateral tibial stress fracture surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK - Kendall McIntosh (head injury), M - David Guzman (thigh injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-2-3-1, right to left)
GK: Jeff Attinella — Zarek Valentin, Larrys Mabiala, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana — David Guzman, Diego Chara — Andy Polo, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco — Jeremy Ebobisse

  • Notes: Jeff Attinella saved 72.6 percent of shots in MLS road games this season, the third highest of any keeper with at least four road appearances. … The Timbers dropped five of their last eight road games (1-5-2), conceding multiple goals in five of those. They are 2-1-2 on the road all-time in the MLS Cup playoffs.

All-Time Series (Regular Season)

Officials

Referee: Alan Kelly
Assistant Referees: Eric Weisbrod, Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Armando Villarreal
VAR: Dave Gantar