Orlando City-Timbers Preview
The push toward playoff positioning for both Orlando City and the Portland Timbers continues in the mid-week.
Visiting Orlando again aims to win two in a row for the first time this season while trying to keep the Timbers from extending their unbeaten run to four games Thursday night.
Orlando (7-9-4) is just below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference but has taken four points in its last two MLS contests, including a 1-0 victory over Columbus at home on Saturday. Benji Michel's goal in the 84th minute ultimately rewarded City with a hard-fought three points and a fourth victory in eight matches.
"I think we showed another great side, very positive to be able to show that kind of toughness," coach James O'Connor told Orlando's official website. "I thought the boys showed tremendous character, really, to be able to defend, put their bodies on the line."
Though Orlando has not won consecutive MLS matches since a six-game winning streak from March 31-May 6, 2018, it's also taken four points from its last two road contests. City is also 3-1-0 all-time against Portland, which still has some work to do in order to move over the playoff line in the West.
The Timbers (7-8-3) are 2-0-1 since losing 2-1 at Montreal on June 26, and are also 2-0-1 at new-look Providence Park since losing 3-2 to Los Angeles FC in their home opener on June 1. Portland, however, twice failed to hold on to one-goal leads in a 2-2 draw with Colorado at home on Saturday.
It benefited from a Colorado own goal in the 27th minute and went ahead 2-1 on Diego Valeri's 63rd-minute penalty kick despite being a man down following Julio Cascante's red card in the 55th. However, the Rapids again equalized, this time on 76 minutes, that ultimately resulted in the spoils being shared.
"I think overall, we're disappointed," goalkeeper Steve Clark told the Timbers' official website. "That's the feeling, but when you take a step back and look at it, it's an important point going down a man.I think it was a moment, as a team, to dig in, grow and stay calm. I think (we) take the point and move on to Thursday."
Valeri's goal was his fifth of the season to go along with 10 assists. He has three goals with two assists in three career matches versus Orlando City.
Michel, meanwhile, is the first homegrown Orlando player to score an MLS goal for the club.
Updated July 16, 2019