It’s East versus West as the New York Red Bulls host the Portland Timbers on Saturday night. It’s the 11th all-time regular season meeting, the first since September 2019, and the first in Harrison since March 2018. Both clubs are opposites sides of the form table going into this one. Red Bulls are riding high after making MLS history last weekend, and aim for their first home win. Conversely, Portland are wondering what gives after being shutout. Let’s take a look at how this game shapes out.
Red Bulls go for third straight win welcoming Portland Timbers
Red Bulls search for elusive first home win
Last week’s 2-1 thriller at the Chicago Fire was a contest that had it all. Weather delays, red cards, VAR and a late comeback saw the Red Bulls become the second team in MLS history to win its opening five road games. Patryk Klimala came off the bench and scored a brace that landed him in the MLS Team of the Week. However, his status for this game is up in the air after Gerhard Struber stated the forward is currently in health and safety protocols. Patryk is still and option to play in this game, but it’s not for sure if he will start.
Ashley Fletcher has led the line in the past few games, and may do so again. The influence of Luquinhas grown in recent games, with a goal and assist in his last two games. Of all the things going right for the Red Bulls, their home form is the only blemish thus far. Of the 15 goals scored by the club, only two have been at home. In fact, New York has earned just two points at Red Bull Arena, only Nashville is worse and they just started life at the brand new GEODIS Park.
New York is riding a lovely wave of momentum going into this game. A win could see them top the Eastern conference should Philadelphia fail to win at Los Angeles FC.
Portland Timbers desperate for answers in attack
It has been a rough stretch of games for the Timbers. After two draws and a win in its first three league games, Portland has won just once in the seven games since then. Even worse, they have been shutout in their last three games and are sliding down the Western Conference table quickly. Currently in 10th and having not scored in 282 minutes, Giovanni Savarese is scratching his head at what’s been going on. The club recently signed striker Nathan Fogaca from their Timbers two affiliate.
Yimmi Chara is the team’s leading goal scorer with just three. Jarowslaw Niezgoda is the main striker, he has two goals to his name thus far. Their build up and possession play has mostly gone stale and predictable for long stretches. Against the Colorado Rapids last week, they mustered only three shots on target and were simply second best throughout that game.
Against the Red Bulls, they might settle for a low block and try to frustrate the hosts. It’s been a plan other teams visiting Harrison have implemented, and have denied New York a win in the process. Happy to let the Red Bulls have possession and come up with ideas on breaking down the opposition. That in itself is a fun plot to watch, as well as the first ever managerial meeting between Struber and Savarese.