Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 23/20
Austin FC will be hosting Portland Timbers at their new venue, the Q2 Stadium, in what will be the 12th MLS game of the season for the home side, and 11th for the visitors.
Austin were founded in 2018, and now, three years later, they’re competing in what is their maiden MLS campaign. The opening 11 matches haven’t exactly covered them in early glory, but they’ve been described as a ‘joy to watch’ by people who tend to enjoy the technical side of the game.
Be that as it may, Austin have been without a win in their last eight matches, since they beat Minnesota United back in early May. As for their last six, they lost 1-0 away to Nashville, drew 0-0 away to Seattle Sounders, 1-1 away to Sporting KC and 0-0 at home against San Jose, before Minnesota got their revenge by beating them 2-0. On Monday they played their first match at the Q2, a goalless draw against Columbus.
Josh Wolff’s team are currently 12th, second from the wrong side of the table, in the Wester Conference, with 10 points to their name, the same tally as San Jose in 10th and Dallas FC in 11th. Only Vancouver are below, on eight.
Austin are in a bit of an injury crisis. Danny Hoesen is out for the rest of the year having gone through a hip surgery, and fellow striker Aaron Schoenfeld is out with a knee problem along with midfielder Ulises Segura. Meanwhile, left-back Ben Sweat is a long-term absentee with an ACL rupture.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver is the pillar of this team, having made 30 saves in the last four matches.
The Timbers have a bit more history than Austin. They came into being in 2009, though they bear the name of a club originally formed in 1975. They’ve been a part of the MLS since 2011, and they finished top of the Western Conference twice so far, in 2013 and 2017. Last season they ended in third place.
But at the moment, Portland are in seventh place with 13 points to their name, one less than Minnesota in fifth and Houston Dynamo in sixth, and on the same tally as Real Salt Lake in eighth.
The team led by Giovanni Savarese won three of their last six matches, drawing once and losing twice. They first beat San Jose away by 0-2, then LA Galaxy at home by 3-0, then lost in Philadelphia by the same scoreline, beat Sporting KC at home by 2-1, drew 2-2 in Houston, before losing 0-1 at home to Minnesota.
Portland are in no better situation when it comes to player availability than Austin. Savarese won’t be able to count on midfielder Ismaila Jome, who can also play in defence if needed, due to an Achilles tendon rupture. Striker Jaroslaw Niezgoda is out with an ACL rupture, and goalkeeper Jeff Attinella with a torn thigh muscle. Winger Andy Polo has missed four matches in a row with a torn muscle and is unlikely to appear in this one either. The same goes for midfielder Christian Paredes, who is suffering from a thigh muscle strain.
Meanwhile, striker Felipe Mora and winger Yimmi Chara are away at the Copa America with Chile and Colombia, respectively.
Striker Dairon Asprilla is, however, practically certain to start, having scored twice in the last two matches. At the back, Portland will rely a lot on left-back Claudio Bravo, who tops the league with 27 tackles won.
This may well be the right time for Austin to break their poor streak and win. Portland failed to win on their 14 previous trips to Texas, which is certainly something the home side will be aware of and looking to exploit.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 23/20
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