It's the Green & Gold against the Verde.
Following two MLS matchdays on the road, the Portland Timbers return home for a crucial Western Conference showdown with Austin FC.
Having secured their first away win of the 2023 season in St. Louis, Portland is slowly climbing up the Western Conference standings and currently occupies the 8th spot. They welcome an Austin side that, like the Timbers, has experienced a slow start to the season. Austin is winless in their last three matches with a 0-3-3 record, sitting in 11th place.
Turning Things Around
Fresh off their 2-1 victory at CITYPARK, the Timbers are finding their stride. Their recent success includes a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory last Wednesday, bringing their April record to 3-2-1 in competitive matches. Portland managed a +4 goal differential over the past month and scored eleven goals, a significant improvement from their four-goal tally in March. Despite dealing with injuries, the Portland offense is clicking.
For Austin FC, building on their 2022 success was a priority, and their initial 2-1-0 start suggested they might achieve it. However, their form took a hit following a shocking Concacaf Champions League elimination by Haitian side Violette AC in mid-March. Since then, they have struggled, salvaging only three points from six matches, all from home draws. On the road, they have failed to score a single goal, suffering a dismal -7 goal differential over that period.
A Mixed April for Timbers
Despite making progress in the standings during April, the Timbers faced some setbacks. The loss of midfielders Eryk Williamson and David Ayala to season-ending knee surgeries is a significant blow, leaving gaps to fill in the center of the field.
On a positive note, the return of Colombian forwards Dairon Asprilla and Yimmi Chara has reignited hope for the season. Asprilla scored three goals in April since returning from knee surgery, including a memorable bicycle kick against Seattle on Derby Day.
Yimmi Chara, who had been sidelined since the season opener in early March, provided the game-winner in a rain-soaked match in Missouri last Saturday. This marked his first minutes of action since the victory over Kansas City, delivering Portland's third win of the campaign.
Midfielders Evander and Cristhian Paredes earned Team of the Matchday selections for their exceptional efforts last Saturday. Evander scored a goal from the penalty spot, while Paredes dominated the midfield in place of the injured Ayala, both instrumental in the defeat of then-second place St. Louis City SC.
Hoping for a Blossoming May
The Timbers hope the offensive surge in April carries over into May, propelling them further up the table. Their first challenge is Austin FC, who aim to shake off a disappointing April and regain form. For Portland, the focus is on continuing to collect points, and there's no better place than their fortress, Providence Park. A victory on Saturday could potentially catapult the Timbers into 6th in the Western Conference.