Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Portland Timbers v Minnesota United: Neville insists hosts ´not taking our foot off the gas´

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 28 Jun 2024

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Phil Neville insists Portland Timbers are still “nowhere near” their capabilities, despite an impressive MLS run lifting them up the table ahead of Saturday’s clash with Minnesota United.

The Timbers have surged up the Western Conference standings, sitting seventh in the league after a six-game undefeated streak.

Neville’s men leapfrogged Vancouver Whitecaps with a commendable 2-0 victory last time out, with this another chance to put pressure on the teams above them.

The former Inter Miami head coach still believes Portland can significantly improve, too.

“It’s step by step, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re not getting carried away,” Neville said.

“We’re keeping our feet firmly on the ground, but we are building confidence, and I think the boys are enjoying what we are doing at the minute.

“I think the longer that continues, the better it is for us. I think this team could still play better. We’re nowhere near where we need to be.

“There’s a big improvement still needed, we have another opportunity to go here – we’re at home, we need to improve our form there, and gaining points here is going to be key to us making the playoffs.”

Minnesota are two places above the Timbers despite a three-match losing streak, a run they will be desperate to snap here.

The Loons came away empty-handed once more in their last outing, a 1-0 defeat to Austin FC, but Neville acknowledged the quality his side will face.

“We’re against a team that has brilliant players,” Neville added. “We’re going to have to play better than we did against Vancouver – we’re not taking our foot off the gas.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Felipe Mora

Felipe Mora scored his ninth goal of the season on Saturday, while Jonathan Rodriguez netted his eighth of 2024.

That pair join Evander (eight goals) to make Portland the only MLS team with three players to have scored at least eight goals this season, though Mora may be the one to keep an eye on against Minnesota.

Minnesota United – Robin Lod

Robin Lod created four chances against Austin, his ninth match with at least that many in an MLS game for the Loons.

The only Minnesota players with more MLS games in which they have created four or more chances are Emanuel Reynoso (24) and Darwin Quintero (14).

MATCH PREDICTION – PORTLAND TIMBERS WIN

Minnesota may boast a favourable head-to-head record in this fixture, but Portland are the favourites for victory here.

Indeed, the Loons have only two of their last 13 meetings with the Timbers in all competitions (won nine, drawn two), including winning the last three in a row.

Yet, Minnesota have never won four straight against Portland, who are in fine defensive form before this clash.

Portland have kept a clean sheet in three of their last five matches, including a 2-0 win over Vancouver on Saturday.

Prior to that, Portland had two shutouts in their previous 31 regular-season games dating back to last June, and another could be on the cards against the out-of-form Loons.

Minnesota dropped their third consecutive game with the loss to Austin, though the Loons have not lost four straight regular-season games since failing in the first four matches of the 2021 season.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Portland Timbers win – 44.8%

Draw – 26.9%

Minnesota United win – 28.3%

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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