Friday, May 24, 2024

Charlotte FC v Portland Timbers: Hosts target 90-minute display as Neville rues slow starts

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 3 May 2024

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Adilson Malanda says Charlotte FC are working to deliver a full 90-minute performance against the Portland Timbers on Saturday, having seen plenty of points slip away from them late on this year.

Dean Smith’s team have slipped to 11th in the Eastern Conference by winning just one of their last five games, drawing one and losing three.

They conceded a 90th-minute winner in last week’s 2-1 loss to New York City FC, and late concessions also cost them in a 1-1 draw with FC Cincinnati and a 1-0 defeat at Toronto FC in March.

Defender Malanda says they have focused on setting that right in training this week, explaining: “We know that’s one of our problems right now, which we need to fix.

“We cannot keep giving up goals like that at the end of games. It can kill all the effort we make throughout the whole week. It’s tough to accept, but it’s part of the game and it happens.

“If you cannot win a game, you have to learn not to lose it, because that has now taken a lot of points away from us.”

The Portland Timbers are suffering from almost the opposite problem, giving themselves a mountain to climb in too many games under Phil Neville.

Portland sit 11th in the West amid a seven-game winless streak, last week’s 3-2 loss to Los Angeles FC seeing them enter half-time at least two goals down for the third time in five matches.

“We just can’t keep giving teams 2-0 starts and expect to win games of football, that’s unacceptable and it’s on me,” Neville said.

“We’ve got to fix it and we’ve got to fix it quick. We will do, because we’re so close to being a very good team, and if we learn that bit, we’ll be a better team.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Charlotte FC – Kerwin Vargas

Vargas opened the scoring for Charlotte in the third minute against New York last week, the 13th time Charlotte had scored in the opening 10 minutes of a regular-season match, tied for the most of any team since they joined the league in 2022 (with the Vancouver Whitecaps and Houston Dynamo).

The Colombian is one of only two Charlotte players with more than one MLS goal to his name this year alongside Patrick Agyemang, while he has also laid on 11 chances for team-mates.

Portland Timbers – Felipe Mora

With four goals, Mora sits joint-top of Portland’s scoring charts for this season, alongside Evander.

As doubts persist over the Brazilian’s fitness, Mora – whose four strikes have come from seven shots worth 2.03 expected goals (xG) for a 57.14 per cent conversion rate – will carry the Timbers’ hopes.

MATCH PREDICTION – CHARLOTTE FC WIN

Saturday’s match will be the first ever between Charlotte and Portland, in what will be the Crown’s 91st competitive game since joining MLS.

Charlotte saw their 14-game unbeaten home run halted by a 3-0 defeat to Minnesota United on April 21, but they have not lost back-to-back matches on their own turf since March 2023, when they went down to the New England Revolution and Atlanta United.

They will fancy their chances of getting back on track on front of their own fans, with the Timbers’ current seven-match winless run their longest in a single season since 2014, when they went eight without victory between March and April.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Charlotte FC – 43.9%

Portland Timbers – 28.5%

Draw – 27.6%

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

SoccerNews

Soccernews.com is news blog for soccer with comprehensive coverage of all the major leagues in Europe, as well as MLS in the United States. In addition we offer breaking news for transfers and transfer rumors, ticket sales, betting tips and offers, match previews, and in-depth editorials.

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