Who: Portland Timbers vs New York Red Bulls
When: Wednesday, September 18th @ 10:30 pm ET
Line: Portland Timbers -110 | Draw +270 | New York Red Bull +265
Losers of three in a row, the New York Red Bulls find themselves battling to hold onto a playoff spot, when not so long ago the 2018 Supporter’s Shield winners were in with a chance to secure a top-four Eastern Conference finish.
After appearing in the 2018 MLS Cup Final, the Portland Timbers have had a somewhat similar season to the Red Bulls. The Timbers find themselves in a battle for a playoff position in the tightly bunched Western Conference.
The one big caveat in Portland’s 2019 campaign is that the Timbers opened the season with an astounding 12 game road trip while Providence Park underwent the finishing touches of an extreme makeover.
Gio Savarese’s team did not do too badly under those difficult circumstances, compiling 4 wins, 6 losses, and 2 ties on that season-opening walkabout.
Both of these teams are coming off of disappointing losses. New York’s 4-2 defeat at Seattle came after the Bulls had erased a 2-0 deficit. Sunday’s 1-0 home loss to DC United ended a brief two-match win streak for Portland.
Portland Timbers vs New York Red Bulls Match Preview
Wednesday night’s match is the Timbers game in hand on most of their Western Conference playoff rivals, with the exception of FC Dallas and the Sounders, who meet in Seattle (also a 10:30 ET kickoff).
Of course, games in hand mean nothing if you do not win them.
Portland boss Savarese is hopeful that key men Brian Fernandez and Sebastian Blanco will be available. The return of his top striker, Fernandez (stomach bug) and influential midfielder Banco would surely be a boon to the playoff-chasing Timbers.
The Red Bulls list center back Amro Tarek as doubtful, with Bran White and Cristian Casseres down as questionable. Tarek has been playing a larger role than expected after being acquired for depth by the Red Bulls from Orlando in the offseason. Aaron Long’s frequent international absences (expected) and injuries and poor play from Tim Parker (unexpected) have seen Tarek pressed into service. Parker relieved Tarek at Seattle and will be ready to go Wednesday night.
Casseres can be replaced in the center of the park by a couple of different teammates but White will continue to be missed until (if) Bradley Wright-Phillips regains his goal-scoring touch.
Both teams have a lot to play for at Providence Park tonight and with the usual 25,000 plus on hand, the atmosphere should be intense. Thanks to that epic opening road trip, the Timers have 11 of their final 12 matches at home, and four of the final five from here on out. So far the Timbers are 4-3 on the run-in. If they can improve that home winning percentage in their final five games, Savarese and co. will be safely in the playoffs.
Red Bulls coach Chris Armas has come under fire from the Red Bulls faithful and his predecessor Jesse Marsch’s Champions League success with Red Bull Salzburg hasn’t doused the flames. Armas’ charges will split its final four matches evenly, beginning tonight in Portland. Four points above the playoff line and the same amount out of fourth place the Red Bulls are perched between hosting a home playoff match and missing out on the postseason altogether.
After the up and down season, the New York originals have endured the former would signify progress, the latter could see the Red Bulls front office contemplating a change behind the bench.