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This a match between two sides who’ve got the final two playoff spots at the moment in the Western Conference. They’ve only faced each other twice before with Nashville SC coming out on top the first time and the other match taking place last month and ending in a 2-2 draw.
Portland Timbers will be a bit disappointed with their position on the league table, having got to the finals last year before failing at the final hurdle. For now, they’ll take a playoffs spot and reserve all the energy for later. Nashville SC sit one point clear for the time being.
The last meeting between the sides ended in a thrilling 2-2 draw. The match took place towards the start of last month and became part of what is now an unbeaten run for the Portland Timbers’ unbeaten run. The Timbers fought back in the second half with two goals in quick succession from Dairon Aspirilla and Jaroslaw Niezgoda. Sean David and Mukhtar Hany had put Nashville SC ahead before the hour mark with goals in each half.
The Timbers had all the momentum by the end and would’ve felt like it was a missed opportunity. They had more of the possession with 54 percent and took 15 shots to Nashville SC’s 11.
There were quite a few crackers this week with a 4-4 game between the Portland Timbers and Minnesota United FC being one of many. Sebastian Blanco scored within 13 seconds, giving us an indication as to what was to come. This was the fourth fastest goal in MLS history.
This was a rematch between last season’s playoff opponents. Portland had an incredible second half with three goals in 15 minutes to give themselves a 4-3 lead but couldn’t hold on in what was one of the games of the season. For all the excitement that permeated this tie, it still ended in a draw, which has been the story of the Portland Timbers’ season.
A long unbeaten streak is all well and good but it doesn’t feel the same when so many matches end in draws. Half the matches in this run have ended in draws and no other team has had more of them this season. 10 draws from 23 games is a bit ridiculous.
Being in the playoff spots for the time being has helped subside some of these disappointing results but the Portland Timbers have to be careful. They’ve only managed seven wins all season, with only the bottom three sides in the Western Conference managing fewer.
They’ve been a strange side all season. They’ve scored 39 and conceded 35 and the underlying stats don’t tell us a different story. If anything, they’ve had a bit of good fortune with their expected goals at 33.3, which isn’t far from the 33.5 expected goals against figure.
What we can ascertain is that this unbeaten run isn’t sustainable and a good side is going to break this run sooner or later. This is definitely not the sort of form you’d expect from the MLS Cup runners-up. The home advantage should be considered but there isn’t much between the sides at the moment. Both have their strengths but the flaws can be easily preyed on.
Forward, Deigo Gutierrez, has undergone a foot surgery and has been out since. He’s expected to return by the end of next month. Pablo Bonilla has not been available to the squad due to visa issues.
There were lots of last minute goals in the MLS this week and it was much the same in Nashville SC’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Javain Brown gave the Whitecaps an important point in the 87th minute.
For Nashville SC, the concerning bit was that the goal from the Whitecaps was deserved after playing a very good second half. Teal Bunbury found the scoresheet for Nashville SC.
Dropping points after taking the lead has been the theme with Nashville SC in recent weeks. This is especially concerning for a side that doesn’t pose a lot of firepower and has come to depend on their defensive prowess all season. They’ve scored 29 and conceded 29. They have an expected goal against value of 26.6, which gives credence to their reputation as a defensive powerhouse but that’s the trouble with sides that rely too heavily on defense.
One great action over 90 minutes can leave the defensive plan in tatters. Not to mention, their upcoming opponents have been on their best scoring run all season. Holding onto narrow leads isn’t a strategy that bears fruit in the long term.
29 goals has been a paltry return but the same can’t be said for the 12 goals from German Han Mukhtar. He has also contributed to 4 assists. His underlying numbers aren’t anything to scoff at either. 10.1 expected goals and 5.1 expected assists speak for themselves.
Only C.J. Sapong has helped him out a little in the attacking department but has still not done quite enough with five goals and four assists. If they can get someone to share the offensive burden of the team with Mukhtar, Nashville FC can go a long way.
On the positive side, they’ve been quite good away from home in recent weeks. The team has a reputation for being solid at home but has collected more points away from home this season, which adds an interesting twist to this match.
Anibal Godoy has been out with a thigh injury and should be back sometime this month.
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|Teams||Portland Timbers vs Nashville SC|
|Time||Wednesday, August 3 at 10.30 pm EST onwards|
|How to watch||ESPN+, DAZN, FOX 12 PLUS, MyTV30|
Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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