Portland take on FC Dallas Saturday evening at Providence Park (7:30pm PT, TICKETS, FOX 12 PLUS). Here are three things to know ahead of tomorrow's clash.
1. Yeah, yeah, Sebastian Lleget. Have you seen Santi?
FC Dallas made a splash in the news this week, lassoing midfielder Sebastian Lletget from the New England Revolution. Llegtet is still hoping to book a seat on the U.S. Men's National Team's plane to the World Cup this winter. He joins Dallas’s equally motivated attacking squad, including Jesús Ferreira (12 goals this year, and still realistically in the running for the league’s Golden Boot) and Paul Arriola (9 goals).
But here’s the stat we’re still wrapping our minds around. Timbers Santiago Moreno completed 100% of his passes against Nashville SC on Wednesday night. Whoa. He added a goal, four attacking assists, four shots—two on target—and 11 duels to his mid-week stats haul. We believe in Santi.
2. The Western Conference standings are as crowded as ever.
Saturday’s clash with FC Dallas will be the Timbers’ third game in 7 days. Meanwhile, three other Western Conference teams also played midweek games, including Dallas. You’d think all those potential points would’ve started to separate the standings. But, no, the 2022 playoff picture is still as hazy as ever.
Portland is in eighth place with 32 points, just below the playoff line. Seattle sits just above us—level on points, but with more wins (the first tie-breaker). Minnesota is in third place, with 35 points, ahead of Dallas also only by a tie-breaker.
As Jake Zivin summarized in this week’s edition of The Matchup, “Six teams are separated by just three points!”
The pressure cooker of the West continues. And due to the World Cup games kicking off in Qatar on Nov 21, the MLS Cup playoffs are coming early this year. MLS Decision Day, the last flurry of games before the postseason, is on October 9.
Our takeaway: If we don’t want to have to reacquaint ourselves with MLS’s tie-breaking rules come October, this is a must-win game.
3. Diego Chara and Dairon Asprilla are back in action.
Need we say more?