Date: Saturday, May 23, 2015 Kickoff: 2 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: BMO Field (Toronto)
Forecast: 64 degrees, sunny
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Assistant Referees: Brian Dunn, Kathryn Nesbitt Fourth Official: Alex Chilowicz
Local TV: ROOT SPORTS
Talent: Keith Bleyer (play-by-play), Ross Smith (analyst), Samantha Yarock (reporter)
English Radio: 750 The Game (KXTG 750AM, 102.9FM) Talent: Jake Zivin (play-by-play), Adin Brown (analyst)
Spanish Radio: La GranD (KGGD 93.5FM, 1150 AM)
Talent: Josue del Castillo (play-by-play), Ozkar Ramos (analyst)
Saturday’s match between Portland and Toronto FC marks the final match of Portland’s three-game road swing, but also the start of a streak of three games in an eight-day span for the Timbers from May 23-30. Portland enters Saturday’s game at BMO Field with a 2-3-1 overall record on the road this season, including a 1-1-0 mark on the team’s current road swing. It is Portland’s second trip across the border to Canada in the last 15 days following a 2-1 win at Montreal on May 9. The Timbers are coming off a 3-1 loss at Houston on May 16. Toronto FC, which opened the 2015 season with seven consecutive road games as BMO Field underwent renovations. Head coach Greg Vanney’s side christened the renovated BMO Field on May 10 in a 2-1 home loss against Houston. Saturday’s game against Portland marks Toronto FC’s second home game this season.
LAST MATCH RECAP
Despite overcoming an early deficit on the road, the Timbers couldn’t overcome a late second-half surge by host Houston Dynamo, conceding two goals inside the final 15 minutes in a 3-1 loss at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 16. After Houston took a 1-0 lead off a header from forward Will Bruin, the Timbers leveled the score just after the second half started as forward Fanendo Adi converted from a Diego Valeri assist in the 48th minute. In the final 15 minutes, however, Houston received goals from midfielder Giles Barnes and a second goal from Bruin for the win at BBVA Compass Stadium.
ALL-TIME SERIES NOTES
Saturday’s match marks the sixth all-time meeting between Portland and Toronto FC and the fourth match between the two sides at BMO Field in Toronto since 2011. The Timbers enter Saturday’s game looking for their first-ever road win against Toronto FC and are 1-2-2 overall against the Canadian club in MLS league play since 2011.
The last two meetings between the clubs at BMO Field have seen a total of nine goals scored (Toronto FC 5, Portland 4). The Timbers earned a 2-2 draw at BMO Field on Aug. 15, 2012, and despite taking a two-goal lead in the opening 30 minutes, sustained a 3-2 loss against Toronto FC on Sept. 27, 2014.
Each team has registered one clean sheet in the all-time MLS series, with Toronto FC earning a 2-0 win in the first-ever meeting on March 26, 2011, and Portland taking a 4-0 win at Providence Park on Sept. 7, 2013. Nine different players have scored for Portland against Toronto FC in the all-time series.
LAST TIME VS. TORONTO FC
The Timbers tied an MLS club single-season record in goals (54) with a pair of markers in the opening 16 minutes, but could not overcome three second-half goals by host Toronto FC in a 3-2 loss at BMO Field on Sept. 27. Following a leg injury sustained by midfielder Will Johnson in the opening seconds of the match, the Timbers responded quickly by scoring the fastest two goals to begin a match in the team’s MLS history as forward Fanendo Adi netted a goal in the 13th minute and midfielder Diego Valeri forced a Toronto FC own goal just three minutes later. Toronto FC, however, tallied three goals in the final 30 minutes for the win.
SCOUTING TORONTO FC
Toronto FC kicked off the 2015 MLS season with seven straight road games as BMO Field underwent renovations. Head coach Greg Vanney’s side played its first home game on May 10, a 2-1 loss against Houston, and enters Saturday’s match against Portland looking for its first home win in the newly upgraded BMO Field. Toronto FC will be without leading goalscorer Jozy Altidore, who sustained a hamstring strain against the New England Revolution on May 16. Despite Altidore’s absence, Toronto FC still features several dangerous attacking players, including Italian midfielder Sebastian Giovinco (4g, 4a) and midfielder Michael Bradley. Eleven different players have registered at least one point for Toronto FC this season. In addition to Giovinco and Bradley, French midfielder Benoît Cheyrou has added one goal and three assists.
BACK LINE CONSISTENCY
The Timbers have featured the same starting defensive unit of goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey with defenders Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell and Jorge Villafaña in first 11 matches. The unit has helped Portland register four clean sheets and a 1.09 goals-against average so far this season.
Through their first 11 matches, the Timbers rank among league leaders in several offensive categories. Entering the week, Portland ranks seventh in total shots (135), while ranking second overall in shooting accuracy (50.57 percent). Shooting accuracy is a calculation of shots on goal divided by total shots (excluding blocked attempts). Portland ranks first overall in blocked shots (48) and ninth in overall chances created (100), according to Opta.
Since 2013, Portland’s 13 road losses (12-13-15) rank as the fewest in MLS during the last two-plus seasons. Additionally, Portland is 7-2-5 overall when scoring first on the road since 2013. In 2015, Portland has compiled a 2-3-1 road record, including a 1-1-0 mark on the team’s current three-game road swing.
Entering the week, the Timbers rank fourth in MLS in successful passes (3,744) and fourth in passing accuracy (80 percent). The Timbers have registered six consecutive games with a passing accuracy rate above 80 percent and rank sixth in the league in total touches (6,998) through 11 games. Individually, midfielder Diego Chara (482) ranks sixth in successful passes and midfielder Darlington Nagbe is 10th (454).
Heading into the week, Portland ranks tied for third in overall possession (52 percent) in MLS. The Timbers have maintained at least 50 percent of the possession in five of the team’s 11 matches, including season-high marks of 66 percent and 64 percent against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on March 28 and May 2, respectively. On the road, Portland has earned 52 percent of the possession in six away games.
Should Defender Nat Borchers play on Saturday, the match will mark his 300th career MLS regular-season appearance. Borchers, who joined the Timbers in the offseason, made 205 appearances with Real Salt Lake from 2008-14 and played 83 games for Colorado from 2003-05.
With his next assist, midfielder Jack Jewsbury will move into a tie for 10th place overall on the Timbers all-time career assists chart with Timbers Ring of Honor member Jimmy Conway (1978-80). Jewsbury currently sits in 11th place with 15 assists for Portland since 2011.
Defender Liam Ridgewell enters Saturday’s match with 26 consecutive starts for the Timbers. Ridgewell has started every match for Portland since his debut on July 18, 2014. Ridgewell has played an MLS-club record 2,340 consecutive minutes and can extend his record on Saturday with a start at Toronto FC.
The Timbers enter Saturday’s match with 199 regular-season goals in MLS, just one goal shy of their milestone 200th MLS goal since 2011.
Should he start on Saturday, midfielder Rodney Wallace will record his 115th career MLS start. Wallace has made 97 appearances (78 starts) for Portland since 2011.
Since making his first start of the 2015 season on May 9 against Montreal, midfielder Diego Valeri has registered at least one point in consecutive matches. Valeri tallied the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over Montreal on May 9, a goal that would win MLS Goal of the Week. On May 16, Valeri provided an incisive through pass for forward Fanendo Adi’s goal in a 3-1 loss against Houston. Valeri missed the first eight matches of the season after sustaining a torn ACL in his left knee on Oct. 25, 2014, against FC Dallas in the last match of the 2014 regular season.
The Timbers face a busy schedule starting with Saturday’s road match against Toronto FC. Portland will turn around and come back to the Rose City to play host to D.C. United in a midweek match at Providence Park on Wednesday, May 27, before heading out to Colorado for a road match on Saturday, May 30, for three league games (including two road games) in an eight-day span.
Since the 2013 season, the Timbers have won nine times in games immediately following a loss. While suffering consecutive losses just twice in those two-plus seasons, the club is an impressive 9-2-6 overall in games directly following a defeat, including a 3-1 victory over FC Dallas on April 4 (which followed a 2-1 loss at Vancouver on March 28) and a 1-0 win over New York City FC on April 19 (which followed a 2-0 loss against Orlando City SC on April 12).
PUSHING THROUGH THE FOULS
Portland ranks first overall in the league in dribbles completed (102). The stat tracks moments when an individual player successfully dribbles around an opponent while retaining possession. Portland’s mark is 13 more than the next-best team. Midfielder Darlington Nagbe (34) and defender Alvas Powell (27) rank second and third, respectively, in the league behind FC Dallas’ Fabian Castillo (42). Highlighting the stat is the fact that the Timbers are the second-most fouled team in MLS (167), while Nagbe is the most-fouled player in MLS (35).