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PREVIEW: New York City FC vs. Portland Timbers

“New York Welcomes the West: Part II”

MLS: Portland Timbers at Seattle Sounders FC Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC will be welcoming a Western Conference team to Yankee Stadium for the second time in four days.

After managing to overcome bad weather and a stingy Sporting KC defense, the Boys in Blue turn their attention to the 2015 MLS Cup Champs, the Portland Timbers. Let’s take a look at where the Timbers are coming into Saturday:


Standings

Portland (41) currently sits one point behind the new Western Conference leaders, Seattle Sounders (42), in what is a tight playoff race at the top. The Timbers’ last match ended in a 1-1 draw with Seattle, “a decent result on the road in a hostile environment” according to Timm Higgins of SB Nation’s Stumptown Footy. Only 5 points separate the top 6 teams in the West as we get closer to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Squad

Although Portland's list of unavailable players isn’t as extensive as the Pigeons’, they will be without a few key talents including captain Liam Ridgewell, top striker Fanendo Adi, goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, and reserve defender Chance Myers. Higgins believes that Portland will at least need Adi and Gleeson back in order to make a deep playoff run. Diego Valeri, the Timbers most lethal player, will be healthy and can be expected to be a handful for the NYC back four. Also worth mentioning: the Timbers’ last match was 2 weeks ago, so they should be rested and ready to come in and make a statement against one of the top teams in the league.

Storylines

  • No one in the West has been able to pull away and separate from the pack in the way that Toronto has done in the East, and Portland is certainly included in that group. The Timbers won their only previous trip to Yankee Stadium, with NYCFC returning the favor at Providence Park last year.
  • NYCFC is on a hot streak right now, unbeaten in 5 games, and doing their best to track down Toronto for the Supporter’s Shield and their first silverware.
  • This should be the first time Rodney Wallace will face his former team. It seems that we haven’t seen much of Rodney lately but I would be surprised if he doesn’t make an imprint on this game.
  • Diego Valeri is always a danger with his ability to create goals and chances from nothing and he’s on his own hot streak right now scoring in six consecutive matches, just 1 shy of matching the MLS record. New York’s midfielders will have their work cut out for them trying to contain #8.
MLS: Colorado Rapids at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday’s match kicks off at 5:30pm at Yankee Stadium and will be televised on YES.