The Portland Timbers (11-8-6) play host to the Houston Dynamo (8-9-7) at Providence Park in this week’s edition of Viernes de Fútbol at 11 p.m. ET (UniMás). The Timbers notched their second straight win with their 1-0 over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. With the victory, the Timbers moved to fourth place, just four points off from leaders LA Galaxy, with nine games remaining in the regular season. The clean sheet was the team’s third straight and Adam Kwarasey’s 11th of the season, which leads MLS. Kwarasey’s first season in MLS has been eased along with the veteran presence of their two center backs – Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers (watch their MLS Insider episode HERE). Borcher’s game-winning goal against his former club, RSL, was his third this season, tying a career-high. The Dynamo are coming off a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution, which put an end to their three game unbeaten run. The Dynamo will be counting on their striker Giles Barnes, the Jamaican International who led his country to their remarkable run to the Gold Cup final, to spark to team to a win. He scored in their 3-1 victory over the Timbers on May 16th and the Dynamo will be looking to catch Seattle Sounders FC for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Orlando City SC (7-11-7) makes their second trip to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC (9-10-4) Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET (TSN). Both clubs are coming off losses with Toronto losing to red-hot New York Red Bulls 3-0 and Orlando City SC getting thumped by Seattle Sounders FC 4-0. Toronto will be glad to return home against Orlando as it was the site of Sebastian Giovinco’s masterclass hat-trick performance against the Orlando on August 5th. His free-kick goal in the match was awarded the AT&T Goal of the Week for Week 23 (watch goal HERE). American international Herculez Gomez, who just joined The Reds, will be primed to make his home debut for Toronto and look to help in their season sweep of the lions. Orlando will be hoping to avoid that feat as they are led by MLS rookie leading goal scorer Cyle Larin, and Kaká, who just earned a call-up to the Brazilian National Team. This will be an important match for both clubs as they try and secure playoff berths for the first time in their histories in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.
Inexperience doesn’t prevent Vancouver, Dallas from emerging as title contenders
Last week, MLSsoccer.com released an infographic displaying total MLS games played by each club’s roster. Two clubs lag noticeably behind the pack in the Western Conference – Vancouver Whitecaps FC and FC Dallas. Vancouver’s roster has just 1,353 games played while Dallas’ roster has accumulated 1,633. LA Galaxy, for comparison, eclipsed the 2,400 mark over the weekend. The ‘Caps (13-9-3) and Dallas (11-7-5) are proving that MLS experience is not a prerequisite for Supporters’ Shield contention. Both clubs are in the thick of the trophy race entering their meeting on Saturday at 10:00 p.m. ET (TSN1). FC Dallas enters this match only five points back of LA Galaxy for the top spot in the Western Conference with three points in hand. Dallas has reaped the benefits from its academy and youth development, as Homegrown Players Victor Ulloa, Kellyn Acosta, and Alejandro Zendejas have all played major roles, while budding stars Fabian Castillo, Mauro Diaz, and Tesho Akindele – all 24-years-old or younger – are also fixtures in Oscar Pareja’s lineup. Vancouver, too, features an impressive array of young players that could be its nucleus for years to come. Whitecaps FC’s starting lineup in Saturday’s match featured seven players younger than 23-years-old, including 20-year-old Gambian Kekuta Manneh, who recorded a brace on Saturday.