Emil Forsberg has praised the New York Red Bulls' confident attacking threat ahead of their game against Orlando City on Saturday.

The Red Bulls currently sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, only behind city rivals New York City FC due to having one less win than them this season.

They bounced back in style from their derby defeat to NYCFC in midweek, beating Charlotte FC 3-1 with an impressive second-half performance.

Forsberg was full of praise for the way his team play, particularly in the final third.

"When we play with tempo, it's hard to get us," he said. "And I think that's the most important thing - to play with confidence.

"When we are straightforward, that's key for us. When we win the ball, we put those hard passes forward and go with everybody."

Orlando City, meanwhile, sit eight points below them in 11th after winning just one of their last four matches.

While they only drew with Chicago Fire on Wednesday, they did end a run of three games without hitting the back of the net.

Oscar Pareja reiterated the Lions’s need to improve if they want to reach the final series.

He said: "It's important that we can keep our minds calm and see the things that we need to get better. We take [the draw against Chicago Fire] and look to improve against New York."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

New York Red Bulls – Emil Forsberg

Forsberg scored goals one minute and 45 seconds apart in the Red Bulls' win on Wednesday. It was the fastest two goals by a Red Bulls player since Daniel Royer scored one minute and 43 seconds apart against Seattle Sounders in July 2017.

Orlando City – Facundo Torres

Torres has scored four goals against the Red Bulls in regular-season play, tied for his most against any opponent along with Chicago Fire, whom he scored against on Wednesday.

MATCH PREDICTION: NEW YORK RED BULLS WIN

The Red Bulls have not lost any of their last nine MLS home matches (W6 D3, incl. playoffs) dating back to last October. New York has not had a longer home unbeaten run in MLS play (incl. playoffs) since a 14-game streak in April-October 2016.

However, Orlando are unbeaten in five matches against the Red Bulls in all competitions (W4 D1) after having never gone more than two in a row without a loss against New York before.

Orlando have lost only six of their 24 regular-season away matches since the start of last season, including going unbeaten in five straight on the road. Only FC Cincinnati (four) have fewer road losses since the start of last season than the Lions (tied with Real Salt Lake).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

New York Red Bulls – 51.3%

Draw – 24.7%

Orlando City – 23.9%

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are expected to feature when Inter Miami host St. Louis City in MLS on Saturday, with the Herons looking to bounce back from a midweek defeat.

Miami saw a 10-match unbeaten run in league play halted on Wednesday, as they were beaten 3-1 by Atlanta United.

That result came despite Messi and Suarez returning to Gerardo Martino's lineup, having both missed a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend.

According to assistant coach Javier Morales, both players will be fit and available for this week's match as Miami target a return to winning ways.

"Everyone is optimum to play," Morales said. "Today we will train, and the coaching staff will watch players but there is no physical problem. 

"Afterwards we will talk to the players but most of all Martino will feel the game and what it needs. 

"But we will play the strongest team to conclude this part of the season strongly before the international window. Everyone is fit and wants to play.

"The plan was always to play the strongest side against St. Louis, the result on Wednesday did not modify that strategy."

St. Louis have lost three successive games to slide to 11th in the Western Conference standings, three points outside the wild-card places.

They were beaten 2-1 by the Seattle Sounders on home soil last weekend, and head coach Bradley Carnell knows a swift response is important.

"I challenge the staff, the players challenge me, and then we try to execute on gameday," Carnell said after that defeat.

"None of us are happy with the situation, let me be clear. We've experienced far better, we've had a lot more joy and a lot more smiles on our faces.

"But we get up in the morning and we go again. That's the message for the boys."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Inter Miami – Lionel Messi

Messi scored Miami's only goal in their defeat to Atlanta on Wednesday. 

It was the first time Messi's club had lost a match in which he scored for over three years, since he netted for Barcelona in a 2-1 loss to Celta Vigo in May 2021.

St. Louis City – Eduard Lowen

Lowen recorded his 17th MLS assist for St. Louis against Seattle last Saturday, setting up a goal for Tomas Totland. His 17 assists have set up goals for 10 different team-mates.

MATCH PREDICTION – INTER MIAMI WIN

St Louis have lost three straight regular-season matches for the first time in franchise history. 

They had lost just three of their previous 18 regular-season matches in a run dating back to last September, winning five and drawing 10 in that span.

St. Louis did beat Miami 3-0 in the teams' first meeting last July, but a lot has changed since that game, which was the Herons' last before Messi debuted in the Leagues Cup six days later.

Miami's 3-1 loss to Atlanta was their first home defeat with Messi in their starting lineup, having previously won 10 and drawn one of 11 matches with the Argentine starting on home turf.

They are strong favourites to bounce back with victory over struggling opponents this weekend. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Inter Miami – 59.8%

St. Louis City – 19.1%

Draw – 21%

Two of the top young Bahamian javelin throw prospects, Dior-Rae Scott and Taysha Stubbs, have committed to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Scott and Stubbs, both 16, are two of the premier female javelin throwers in the region and globally as well.

They both won gold medals at the 51st CARIFTA Games in St. George’s, Grenada, in April this year.

Scott threw a personal best and new CARIFTA record 52.53m to win gold in the Under-17 section while Stubbs threw 50.94m to win the Under-20 section.

Those marks are among some of the best in the world for the age-group.

Scott is tied for fourth on World Athletics’ Top Performance List for under-18 girls in the 500-gram javelin event, and Stubbs is sixth in that same division, but in the 600-gram javelin event.

They will both look to emulate the success of Nebraska standout Rhema Otabor, a Bahamian NCAA champion in the women’s javelin who will be looking to defend her title as a collegiate senior at this year’s National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

The Nebraska senior is currently the NCAA leader in the event this season with 59.12m done at the Drake Relays on April 24.

She took silver at the 2023 Pan Am Games in Chile with a personal best 60.54m.

After being snubbed for the previous tour of Pakistan, Guyana's Shabika Gajnabi makes a return to the West Indies Women’s team, as the Selection Panel named a 15-player squad for the eagerly anticipated series against Sri Lanka.

This exciting series, which starts next month, will feature three One Day Internationals (ODIs) and three T20 Internationals (T20Is), with the first match taking place on Saturday, June 15, in Galle.

Gajnabi, who along with her compatriots Ashmini Munisar and Plaffiana Millington were left out of the squad that enjoyed a successful outing in Pakistan, has been refitted in the Shane Deitz-coached team in place of Jannillea Glasgow.

The team is once again led by Captain Hayley Matthews who has been in exceptional form, supported by Vice-Captain Shemaine Campbelle.

Lead Selector Ann Browne-John explained the significance of the tour.

“The ODI series serves as a crucial stepping stone towards automatic qualification for the Women’s Cricket World Cup, providing an essential opportunity for the team to gain more valuable points in the Women’s Championship. The tour also allows the squad, during the T20I series, to continue to prepare for the upcoming T20 World Cup, which takes place in September in Bangladesh," Browne-John said.

"The similar Indian subcontinental conditions will help the team to refine their skills strategies, build synergy, and assess their strengths and areas for improvement against quality opposition. The experience gained here will be invaluable as they progress towards the T20 World Cup, ensuring they are well-prepared and in peak form for the challenges ahead," she added.

The ODI series in Galle from June 15-21 is part of the ICC Women's Championship, with the top five teams and hosts India automatically qualifying for the Cricket World Cup in 2025. The West Indies Women are currently sitting seventh in the table with, Sri Lanka eighth but level on points.

The team departs the Caribbean on Sunday for a seven day training camp in Colombo to prepare and acclimatise ahead of this important tour.

Full squad: Hayley Matthews (Captain), Shemaine Campbelle (Vice-Captain), Aaliyah Alleyne, Shamilia Connell, Afy Fletcher, Cherry Ann Fraser, Shabika Gajnabi, Chinelle Henry, Zaida James, Qiana Joseph, Chedean Nation, Karishma Ramharack, Stafanie Taylor, Rashada Williams, Kate Wilmot

Match schedule

Saturday, June 15- 1st ODI at the Galle International Stadium, Galle

Tuesday, June 18- 2nd ODI at the Galle International Stadium, Galle

Friday, June 21 - 3rd ODI at the Galle International Stadium, Galle

Monday, June 24- 1st T20I at the Mahinda Rajapaksha International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota

Wednesday, June 26 - 2nd T20I at the Mahinda Rajapaksha International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota

Friday, June 28- 3rd T20I at the Mahinda Rajapaksha International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota

Phil Neville believes Portland Timbers' hard work is starting to show ahead of their game against Houston Dynamo on Saturday.

The Timbers have won three of their last four games, including both at home in that run, and sit ninth in the Western Conference.

Against Austin FC on Wednesday, they kept their first clean sheet of the season with a 2-0 victory.

Neville is hopeful Portland can continue to build on their recent momentum as they look to close the gap to the teams above them.

"There's a good cohesion to the team and a good structure. The players are now doing their jobs and doing it to the ability that you expect," Neville said.

"The last two or three games we've seen a continuation of the work we've been doing. We knew we had a lot of work to do to change things here and that it would take time, and I'm super proud of them all.

"If we really believe in what we're doing and have confidence to be the team that we can be, then we have to go again on Saturday. There's no looking back and resting on your laurels. You've got to be ruthless and got to be relentless."

Houston sit eighth in the league, two points better off than Saturday's opponents, and won 3-1 against Colorado Rapids in midweek.

"This is a team that is always thinking to go forward," assistant coach Juan Guerra said.

"We're very focused on playing attractive possession style soccer to go forward and be able to create opportunities. On [Wednesday], it went in, and I hope it keeps going in, starting with Saturday."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Evander

Evander scored his seventh goal of the season on Wednesday to go along with five assists in his 12 appearances this season. The only other Timbers player to record 12 goal contributions in his first 12 games of a season was Diego Valeri in his 2017 MVP season.

Houston Dynamo – Latif Blessing

Blessing has found the net in consecutive games for the first time in almost five years, since doing so for Los Angeles FC in August 2019.

Blessing's two goals in the last week came after he had scored just two goals in his previous 89 MLS appearances dating back to the start of the 2021 season.

MATCH PREDICTION: PORTLAND TIMBERS WIN

With their win at Austin on Wednesday, the Timbers have won three of their last four matches (L1) after winning just two of their first 12 matches this season (D4 L6). Portland's 2-0 win over Austin on Wednesday also ended a run of 20 straight matches allowing a goal.

However, the Dynamo have won three straight matches against Portland after going winless in the previous eight meetings (D3 L5). Neither team have managed four straight wins over the other in all competitions.

Houston won for just the second time in nine matches in all competitions with a 3-1 victory over Colorado on Wednesday. It was the Dynamo's first three-goal performance since their last visit to Portland, a 3-1 win on Decision Day last season.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Portland Timbers – 42.1%

Draw – 26.7%

Houston Dynamo – 31.2%

Nick Cushing is looking forward to New York City FC's next home game against San Jose Earthquakes on Friday and asks the fans to "build an atmosphere".

NYCFC are on a four-match winning run and beat derby rivals New York Red Bulls 2-1 in their most recent outing at Citi Field.

That run means they sit in third in the Eastern Conference and are eight points behind leaders Inter Miami.

NYCFC have the opportunity to close the gap to second place with Cincinnati not in action this weekend, and Cushing is hopeful the fans can give the team an added boost as they try to maintain their recent winning streak.

"I love playing in front of our fans," Cushing said.

"I love playing at home. It is the last game before we get a bye week and an international break, and it's Friday night under the lights.

"The Red Bull game was amazing because of the atmosphere, the crowd, the amount of fans we got in, and the way that we played.

"We just want to make sure that we deliver a performance every game that makes people want to come to the stadium. A performance that makes people excited and makes them want to make a noise and build an atmosphere.

"We encourage fans to be super noisy for us because it helps us. We want to keep adding wins. I'm excited, and I want to make sure that we start the game in a way that makes us really work together – ourselves and the fans – and then go and get another win."

San Jose, meanwhile, sit second from bottom of the Western Conference, eight points off a playoff spot.

They have not won any of their last three outings, though their last win did come on the road when they beat Colorado Rapids 3-2 on May 12.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

NYCFC – Tayvon Gray

Gray has recorded the assist on the winning goal in each of NYCFC's last two matches.

It is the first time in his career that he has recorded an assist in consecutive MLS matches as he had recorded just one assist in his previous 33 games dating back to September 2022.

San Jose Earthquakes – Cristian Espinoza

Espinoza recorded his eighth assist of the season in San Jose's draw with Austin on Saturday, setting up a goal for Jeremy Ebobisse.

Ebobisse is the seventh different player Espinoza has recorded an assist for this season – the only player he has set up twice is Amahl Pellegrino.

MATCH PREDICTION: NEW YORK CITY FC WIN

New York City have won five of their six all-time meetings with the Earthquakes (D1), including the last four in a row. NYCFC has scored multiple goals in all five wins, including scoring 10 times in their home matches against the 'Quakes (all wins).

Indeed, NYCFC have won seven of their last eight matches (L1), including the last four in a row, and could equal the longest regular-season winning streak in club history (five straight in 2019).

Meanwhile, San Jose have won only two of their last 48 regular-season road matches against Eastern Conference opposition (D11 L35) dating back to May 2012. The Earthquakes have managed to draw each of their last three road matches against Eastern teams, including a 1-1 draw at Nashville in April.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

NYCFC – 59.5%

Draw – 21.2%

San Jose Earthquakes – 19.3%

Gerardo Martino refused to comment on suggestions that Lionel Messi was saving himself for the Copa America, following Inter Miami's 3-1 defeat by Atlanta United.

Despite his 11th goal of the season - and first in three games - Messi was unable to prevent a first loss in 11 MLS matches for the Eastern Conference leaders at Chase Stadium.

Saba Lobjanidze scored in each half to put 12th-place Atlanta in control and, though Messi halved the deficit, Jamal Thiare struck in the 73rd minute to snap the visitors' nine-game winless streak.

Messi, who was back in the starting line-up after missing Miami's 2-1 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps last time out, will soon link up with Argentina ahead of their Copa America title defence, which starts in a couple of weeks' time.

Martino was asked whether he thought the eight-time Ballon d'Or winner's focus was distracted by the forthcoming tournament in the United States, where the reigning world champions will seek their third silverware in four years.

"No, I will not speculate if Messi is saving himself for Copa America because [that question has] no validity," the head coach said.

On Miami's performance, he continued: "The first feeling is that we were missing one more gear compared to Atlanta, and that was evident in the first half and during the second half. 

"It was a night where the team regressed compared to other games. I think we were very well outmatched, and they beat us well.

"The conditions were favourable, much more for us than them. But their position on the table is deceiving, and they showed that."

Senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Hubert Busby expressed pleasure with the foundation laid at the team’s first in-person engagement since his reappointment, and he believes it sets a good tone for the remainder of the camp in Brazil.

Busby and his squad –with the exception of Jody Brown, who was scheduled to arrive late –went through what he said was a lively two-hour session to hit the ground running ahead of the two-match friendly series against The Female Canaries on June 1 and June 4.

While the games will aide Brazil’s preparations for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, for Busby and his team, the outing is more about rekindling their competitive spirit, as it represents the first assignment together for the core group of players after almost nine months apart.

Those Girlz that represented at last year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup withdrew their services after the Olympic qualifiers against Canada in September, citing nonpayment and mistreatment from Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) among their reasons.

Now reunited, Busby pointed out that the first session was to get the Girlz reacquainted with the structures the team plans to implement going forward.