MLS – Dallas v Portland Timbers Preview (3/9/16)

DAL-PT

Dallas preview

FCD sit five points clear at the top of the Western Conference but haven't exactly been setting the world alight recently. Just 2 wins in 5 games were against Vancouver & Houston, a couple of sides who are languishing at the bottom of the current standings. Dallas are a good team but are still reeling from the loss of star winger Fabian Castillo. He transferred to Turkish club Trabzonspor a few weeks ago and without his presence in the final third, Dallas definitely aren’t as much of a threat. Another big problem for the Texan outfit here is that they miss five players to international duty, three of whom are regular starters. Dallas will be especially hit hard in central midfield where the duo of Carlos Gruezo & Kellyn Acosta both miss out. The hosts have come through international breaks before and produced some surprisingly good performances, but it’s never easy when you miss key men. Dallas have a superb home record this season (9-0-4)

Portland preview

The Timbers currently reside in the final Western Conference playoff spot and head into the match in highly inconsistent form. Recent wins against SKC (3-0) and Seattle (4-2) have been offset by some poor defeats. You never quite know what you’re going to get with Portland these. There was a stage when they had a nine match unbeaten run in MLS this term, but apart from that they’ve been up and down like a yo-yo! Their away form has been poor and so far the defending MLS Cup champions have yet to taste victory on their travels! Scoring just 10 times in 13 games has hardly helped matters. Portland will be without important midfielder Darlington Nagbe, whilst right back Alves Powell also misses out (international duty).

Conclusion & betting analysis

Portland beat Dallas in the Western Conference playoffs last season, but the Texans have exacted their revenge so far in 2016, winning both meetings. This is the final clash between the two, although you wouldn't bet against them meeting again in the postseason! Historically, this is a fixture which always contains a lot of goals. A massive 10 of the last 11 H2Hs have all ended over 2.5. If both teams were at full strength I would probably back the overs again but because each miss players to international duty then I’ll swerve. Looking at the match prices here I think Portland are disrespected a bit. How can they be on a +1 handicap? It’s true they are missing two starters, but I would say Dallas are more badly affected by the international call ups. Ultimately, is there really that much difference between these two sides now that Castillo has left Dallas? Ok, they are great at home and Portland winless away, but I’m not at all sure they deserve to be such strong favourites tonight. I’m going to be brave and take Portland +1. This is too generous a line to refuse.

Prediction: 1-2
Recommended bet 1 unit: Portland Timbers +1 (asian) @ 1.88 (minimum odds acceptable 1.70)