PREVIEW | Timbers take on Dynamo in MLS Decision Day duel

Win and they're in – Timbers host Dynamo with playoff ticket on the line. Kickoff is scheduled for 6pm PT on Saturday.

MLS Decision Day 2023 has arrived, and it's a battle for playoff berths and positioning across the entire Western Conference. In the Rose City, the Portland Timbers welcome Houston Dynamo FC in what will be the final match of the 2023 MLS regular season. Kickoff is 6pm PT on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.

MLS Decision Day

MLS Decision Day

Timbers host Houston in regular-season home finale on MLS Decision Day!

Sitting in seventh place, Portland (11-12-10, 43pts) has yet to fully secure their ticket to the postseason, but hold their fate in their hands. They host fourth-place Houston (13-11-9, 48pts) who have qualified for the playoffs and are looking to finish strong in the top-four. The two go head-to-head for the second time this season, having met back on Aug. 20 in Houston. Although the Timbers lost that match at Shell Energy Stadium, they still hold the all-time season series lead with 10 wins to the Dynamo's 7 (8 draws). Saturday will mark the 24th meeting all-time between both clubs in MLS regular-season play.

Audi 2023 MLS Cup Playoffs Picture: What does Portland need to do?

It's all coming down to the final match of the regular season, and Decision Day will bring all the emotions as the Western Conference playoffs picture becomes complete. For Portland, the objective is to earn all three points in front of the SCUSA faithful on Saturday, and with that, the playoffs are secured with a seventh seed. If they fail to get the win against the Dynamo, it's not over – it just gets a little more complicated.

Houston won't be an easy opponent, they have an incentive to go all-out for victory in the Rose City as a win would grant them a top-four seed and therefore home-field advantage in the playoffs. All the Western Conference Decision Day matchups will kick-off at the same time – meaning come 6pm PT, the Timbers as well as all the other teams in postseason contention go to battle.

Decision Day Drop-Off Zone

Pts. Diff. to PTFC
San Jose
Kansas City
Non-Playoff Zone
Wild Card Round

Here are the Decision Day 2023 matches to stay updated with in the West for a full scope of the finalizing playoffs picture:

10 Kansas City vs 11 Minnesota

Two clubs on the outside-looking-in, they will contest a must-win encounter in Kansas. This matchup could provide either club with a slingshot-jump into seventh at-best, or out of the postseason at worst. Should one emerge victorious, their best hope is for a club above them both to trip-up in their respective games for a shot at MLS Cup.

  • Best scenario for PTFC: A draw keeps both KC and the Loons out of the playoffs and guarantees Portland a spot in the postseason (regardless of Timbers result).

13-e LA Galaxy vs 8 Dallas

An already eliminated Galaxy host a struggling FC Dallas who in their last 10 games have a 2-1-8 record, and are winless (albeit undefeated) in their last five. An interesting matchup that gives the Texan club a good opportunity to secure their ticket into the next phase.

  • Best scenario for PTFC: A loss for Dallas in Carson secures a postseason spot for Portland. A draw would also see Portland through should the Timbers draw or win with Houston.

9 San Jose vs 12-e Austin

San Jose will be hosting an already eliminated Austin FC, and are likely favored in this matchup. However they wont be in their best form as of late. Since their loss to the Timbers on Sept. 20, the Quakes are on a four-match winless streak (0-1-3) and could face a challenge from potential spoiler Los Verdes.

  • Best scenario for PTFC: A loss for San Jose at home secures Portland a playoff spot. A draw keeps them below Portland in the standings should Timbers also draw or win and also sees Portland through to the playoffs.

Here are the stats to know heading into the Decision Day duel with Houston:


Five teams in the Western Conference standings remain in contention for the three playoff spots left. In the fight with Portland for one of the three Western Conference postseason tickets left are Dallas, San Jose, Kansas City, and Minnesota. Additionally, heading into Decision Day, the Timbers are in a three-way tie in points (43) with Dallas and San Jose, however they hold the tie-breaker due to most number of wins thus far (11).


After an incredible bounce-back latter-third of the season, the Timbers come into Saturday with a strong grasp on their postseason destiny in 2023. In the last matchday of the regular season, should Portland win, the Timbers can secure the seventh seed and a spot in the Best-of-3 Series round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.


It has been 62 days since Portland's defeat at Houston's Shell Energy Stadium on Aug. 20. Since then, Portland has gone 5-2-2, picking up 17 of a possible 27 points to move into seventh place in the Western Conference.

1 in 9

In Portland's last nine regular-season matches with Houston, the Timbers have recorded five wins, three draws, and only one loss in nine encounters since May 15, 2019.

By Halves

All-time, the Timbers have put 37 goals past the Dynamo in the regular season. Houston has returned the favor 35 times. What's curious is that each team seems to have a preferred half to do their damage. When analyzing it by halves, the Dynamo have scored 24 of their 35 in the first half of play – that's 68% of their goals. The Timbers are the opposite, netting 23 of their 37 in the second half – 62% of their goals.