The Portland Timbers host FC Dallas on Saturday night in a match that could prove pivotal for both teams’ postseason chances.
Dallas (9-7-8, 35 points) enters its second consecutive away match in the Pacific Northwest in fourth place in the Western Conference, but with only three points separating them from eighth-place Portland.
Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat in Seattle perhaps made clear the squad needed some roster reinforcements to remain among the seven playoff positions.
Not long afterward, Dallas acquired attacking midfielder Sebastian Lletget in a trade with the New England Revolution, with the hope he would add a supplemental scoring threat behind Jesus Ferreira and Paul Arriola. That duo has combined for 21 of Dallas’ 33 goals.
“It’s something that we needed to add, because we were depending too much on the goals from Paul and Jesus and the forwards,” Dallas manager Nico Estevez said. “It’s someone to add from the second line, from the midfield line, that can contribute with goals.”
Lletget has scored more than three goals only twice in his eight-year MLS career. But even three would tie him for third on Dallas’ current squad with Franco Jara and Alan Velasco.
The Timbers’ offense is more of a group effort. Jaroslaw Niezgoda leads Portland (7-6-11, 32 points) with nine goals, but five players have at least four goals this season.
And with the announcement this week that Felipe Mora — who led Portland with 11 goals a season ago — will have season-ending knee surgery, the Timbers will have to keep finding goals from other places if they’re to get into the playoffs.
Portland is currently on the outside of the postseason looking in despite an active nine-match unbeaten run. And that means players like winger Yimmi Chara are keeping an eye on the standings.
“We’re always looking at the standings because for us it’s important to know what position we’re in and what teams are above us,” Chara said through an interpreter. “I think we had a pretty difficult and rocky beginning of the season. But now with the results we’re climbing, and I think we feel really good currently with the results.”
–Field Level Media