Match previews

Match preview: Portland Timbers vs Philadelphia Union

Photo: Paul Rudderow  

Who: Portland Timbers (3-6-4, 15 points, 10th place in the West) vs. Philadelphia Union (2022: 5-6-1, 21 points, first place in the East)

What: 2022 MLS Regular Season – Week 13

Where: Providence Park, Portland, OR

When: Sunday May 22 at 10:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Watch: FS1

Whistle: Referee: Allen Chapman, Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Micheal Barwegen 4th Official: Michael Radchuck, VAR: Younes Marrakchi

Union fans have just recovered from sleep deprivation following the late night LAFC game and now there is a 10:00 p.m. game at Portland – on a school night!

Both teams are coming off a short week, with Portland returning home following Wednesday’s loss in San Jose. The Union of course have to travel across the continent after their home draw with Miami.  The MLS schedulers are being kind to neither the Union nor their fans.

These two teams meet infrequently, at most once per season.  The last time they met was in May of 2021 where  the Union put a hurtin’ on the shorthanded Timbers, beating them handily by a 3-0 score on the home turf – only the second time the Union have defeated Portland in 11 matches (2-3-6 overall). 

Scouting Report: Portland Timbers

Portland came oh so close to winning the MLS Cup last season, eventually losing to NYC FC in penalty kicks. But they kept their core and along with longtime coach Gio Savarese will most likely make another run at it this year. One player they did lose was Diego Valeri, one of MLS’s best of all time. After eight seasons as a Timber he was transferred back to his hometown team in Argentina to finish off his career. 

The Timbers are coming off a seven-goal explosion last weekend against Kansas City but had a letdown on Wednesday losing to San Jose 3-2, which included a brace from our old pal Jamiro Monteiro.

The Timbers are a team that likes to bunker and counter and don’t emphasize possession.  When they counter their No. 10, Sebastian Blanco, is one of the best in MLS. He is currently on the MLS team of the week following a two goal, two assist match against Kansas City and has been in good form of late following some injury issues.  

And when they bunker, Diego Chara is still a top defensive midfielder.

Injury report:  Unavailable

Scouting report: Union

The good news is the Union still reside in first place in the Eastern Conference (however precarious it may be).

The bad news is… well… everything else – or at least it feels that way. 

After a 5-1-0 start the Union are winless in their last six, including five straight draws.  The latest straw on the camel’s back is the disappointing 0-0 draw with Miami.  The Union have scored only six goals during the streak and in those games relinquished the lead five times.  Perhaps this is why, as Jim Curtin said after the Miami match, “This is the most pissed off first-placed team I’ve ever been a part of.”

The lack of offense should improve once Mikael Uhre gets back on the pitch – perhaps he will play on Sunday but is currently listed as questionable.  While Sergio Santos and Cory Burke each have skill sets, scoring goals does not seem to be one of them. Julian Carranza will return as well after missing the last game due to terms of his loan agreement with Miami.

Jose Martinez will be back after missing the last match due to yellow card accumulation (who could have predicted that?).  He will be needed to help shut down Sebastian Blanco. With the back four in their preferred positions, the Union will certainly limit Portland’s scoring opportunities as they have done to teams all season, giving up a league-low 9 goals.

Injury Report:  Questionable: Mikael Uhre     

Suspension Report:  None

Key Matchup:  Jose Martinez vs Sebastian Blanco

Martinez will be back and rested against a top No. 10 in good form. Martinez has done well in the past against playmakers  – will see if that continues

Player to Watch: Mikael Uhre 

Hopefully we won’t be watching him sit on the bench.  He finally scored his first goal right before he went back out on injury.  The Union need his skills.

Prediction:  Philadelphia 1-1 Portland 

Hate to predict another draw, but there you are.

Moneyline: 

Philadelphia Union:    +170

Portland Timbers:   +160

Draw:   +235

Vegas has been paying attention.

6 Comments

  1. Question… Is Mark McKenzie injured NOT on Genk anymore? He wasn’t called up again for USMNT… And haven’t seen his name in weeks in Gent Lineup.

    • Steve 101 says:

      He was having trouble consistently getting on the pitch for them. Not surprised about the lack of a call up to the USMNT after his last disaster of a start. The guy just makes poor decisions at the worst time.

    • He started a couple of games straight recently before being dropped again. I have followed him on and off since he moved. The short version is that while he has had his own personal ups and downs; Genk rotates CBs more than any other team I have ever seen and that makes it incredibly hard for Mark to develop or grow comfortable.

      The plan when he was sold was most likely for him to learn behind their 2 really good Columbian CBs for a half season than take over. Well, neither of those CBs were sold that summer; and in fact all they did was bring in another CB. And then this tweet puts it best:

      @BrianSciaretta Just to expand: Genk has played 38 league games. The team has 4 CBs with 20+ appearances, another with 12. McKenzie has been subbed into games 2x, subbed out 3x. Sadick subbed in 2x, out 1x. Lucumí subbed in 4x, out 1x. Cuesta subbed in 6x, out 1x. Very different approach

      He is still young but unless Genk starts to cement things at CB it may be time for him to start looking for somewhere else to develop.

  2. Very interesting. Sounds like he’s “learned” enough Genk. Thanks for the info.

    So as for the Sunday night game… unfortunately we’re destine for a tie, again… unless Uhre starts. IF Uhre starts, then a win is possible. Portland is a good squad, in a tough place to play on National TV. A good place to show case the squad and come away with a tough fought win… all pointing to hosting MLS Cup 2022 in Chester. Doop!

  3. … and then I read the article!
    Doop!

  4. Gruncle Bob says:

    Any suggestions for good bars to watch the game? I’m a bit concerned because it’s Sunday night.

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