MLS

Portland Timbers v Houston Dynamo: Hosts not resting on laurels after winning run

By Sports Desk May 31, 2024

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%

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