Thursday, July 25, 2024

Portland Timbers v Vancouver Whitecaps: Neville aiming to raise the level back on home soil

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Jun 2024

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Portland Timbers head coach Phil Neville has urged his players to raise their performance levels against the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS on Saturday.

Portland are currently on a five-match unbeaten streak in the competition and made a winning return from their mid-season break by beating the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 on Wednesday.

They sit seventh in a tightly contested Western Conference, and Neville admits they need to improve if they want to keep their current form going.

“Even though we got the win against San Jose, the performance was nowhere near good enough,” Neville said. “We had 10 days off, and I hope that kind of performance is out of the way.

“Saturday’s a big game against Vancouver, and we can’t play to that level. We have to keep raising the level. We need to keep pushing and stay in the pack by winning games.

“We’re developing a mentality of not accepting defeat, making people accountable for what they’re doing, and guys are stepping up.”

Meanwhile, Vancouver sit one place and one point above Portland but suffered a disappointing 3-2 defeat to the New England Revolution last weekend.

Having won back-to-back games by 2-1 scorelines before that loss, head coach Vanni Sartini is hopeful his side can make some big improvements ahead of this week’s Cascadia derby.

“The challenge is to play better than we did in the last game,” he said. “Offensively, we will need to do a lot of things that we normally do well, creating chances and getting men in the box.

“I didn’t like the performance of last week, so this week we’re focusing on the things that we can do better.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Jonathan Rodriguez

While Evanilson is a constant threat for Portland (and their joint-top scorer of the season with eight goals), Rodriguez is close to equalling his tally.

He scored the winner against San Jose on Wednesday, netting his seventh goal of the campaign.

Vancouver Whitecaps – Ryan Gauld

Gauld was a bright spark for Vancouver in their disappointing defeat to New England last weekend, scoring both goals.

He was clinical; despite amassing an xG of just 0.09, he had the joint-most shots (three), scoring with both of his attempts on target and also creating three chances.

MATCH PREDICTION: PORTLAND TIMBERS WIN

The Whitecaps are unbeaten in their last five Cascadia rivalry matches against Portland and the Seattle Sounders (three wins, two draws), their longest such run since a seven-match streak between 2013 and 2014.

They have also won their last two games against the Timbers, recording 3-2 victories both home and away in August 2023 and March 2024.

However, Portland are in great shape, going unbeaten through their last five matches (three wins, two draws), and netting multiple goals in 13 different MLS games this year. Only Inter Miami, with 14, have recorded more such matches.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Portland Timbers – 43.6%

Draw – 23.8%

Vancouver Whitecaps – 29.6%

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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