Portland has been a very good home side with 8 wins and 4 draws in 14 matches played, so having 3 of the last matches in the Rose City does give some confidence to them. While Orlando City is on the outside of the postseason hunt, they do have the satisfaction of having never lost to the Timbers in their only 2 meetings in MLS history - OCSC defeated the Timbers 2 to 0 back in April 2015 at Providence Park while they dismantled the Timbers 4 to 1 back in April 2016. Cyle Larin continues to be the focal point of the offense while Kaka, Carlos Rivas and Giles Barnes man the midfield, but many MLS observers were shocked by the midseason move that brought Dom Dwyer to OCSC from Sporting KC during the summer transfer window. Dwyer has started the last 4 matches for Orlando City, so their offensive potential could be seen as dangerous. Much like the Timbers, however, the OCSC defense led by Jonathan Spector, Scott Sutter and former MLS Timbers goalkeeper Joe Bendik has been erratic. Bendik's numbers haven't been terrible, but much like his counterparts Jake Gleeson and Jeff Attinella, Bendik has seen a ton of shots come his way. While their postseason dreams would likely require them to win out and get some help for qualification, Orlando City would love nothing more than to dent the Timbers' postseason aspirations.
The Timbers have been buoyed by the news that Fanendo Adi is finally healthy and could see minutes in this match, but they've watched their other playmaker, Diego Valeri, enter the 2017 MLS Most Valuable Player discussion. Valeri now sits just 1 goal behind NYCFC forward David Villa in goals scored with 18 goals and is now the sole owner of another record as he has scored a goal in 8 consecutive matches for Portland. We have witnessed the Maestro elevate his play to unseen levels in his MLS career, and the Timbers are benefiting from pulling together at just the right time. It hasn't been solely due to him, however, as the defense has rebounded from the debacle in Toronto to only concede 4 goals in their last 5 matches as Attinella has settled into the starting goalkeeper's job. Whether we see Gleeson return at some point, Portland is ecstatic to have Diego Chara back from his suspension for accumulation to join David Guzman in the midfield. Liam Ridgewell also returned from injury to start versus RSL, meaning the Timbers have been as healthy now as they have been all year. Only Marco Farfan's lingering ankle and Gbenga Arokoyo's season ending injury remain as concerns, but with the recent play of Zarek Valentin, Vytas and Roy Miller, the Timbers have been more consistent defensively recently and it couldn't come at a better time.
With a nation wide audience joining via Fox Sports 1 and the first match at home in a while for them, what do our crack staff of soccer experts think will happen this Sunday? Let's find out, shall we?
|It's pure chaos here, I think. Or it could be a kitty staredown.|
Mark: Timbers 3, Orlando City 0
The soccer gods at 538 have the Timbers at 60 percent probability to win this game, 20 percent for a tie and 20 percent chance that Orlando parades into Providence Park and marches away with 3 points.
Well, I am going to put away the in-depth analysis, their defense is porous, but there are too many crappy things happening. For this reason, it is time for a feel good night in Portland. The Timbers may roll in like the eye of a hurricane and bunker down and wreak havoc.
They are too nice to do that. I feel a taking care of business 3 - nil win. Asprilla with a header, and Nagbe with something spectacular. Adi comes in late and trickles one in while Blanco will get a yellow.
|Oh, hi, everybody! I'm Lucy and I like to scream meow!|
Lucy: Portland 2, Orlando City 2
Lucy is very demonstrative when she predicts soccer matches, but honestly, she's loud when doing anything. The screams about goals came ringing from the cat room as Lucy pondered the thoughts for the weekend, but she gave two loud meows for both sides. This indicates that both sides will get something for their troubles, but the home side won't be too happy about the result. Lucy is really sorry about this predictions, but she saw the writing in the kibble.
|Kenny predicts a ninth consecutive MLS goal for Diego Valeri|
Rick: Timbers 2, Orlando City 1
On current form the Timbers should just be strong enough to get their first win against Orlando. The lost 2-0 at home in 2015 and got thumped 4-1 on the road last year.
The good news is that Fanendo Adi is likely to see minutes off the bench after a 3 month layoff through injury. The bad news is Sebastian Blanco is on yellow card away from a one game suspension.
|My name is Pilot. I like boxes and cat treats.|
Pilot: Timbers 3, Orlando City 1
Pilot hasn't been much of himself as he was battling an eye infection followed up by dry eye, but he was very willing to provide his thoughts on this match. For Portland, it was 3 very loud mews while Orlando only received one before he ran off to use the litter box. Perhaps he knows something.
|I can fit in most overhead storage bins when traveling.|
GB: Timbers 0, Orlando City 3
GB is still very much a Portland kitty as he's lived here his whole life, but when asked about goals for the Timbers this weekend, he clammed up and said nothing. He did mew 3 times for the visitors, however, so he's thinking the purple guys are going to win. Once he gave his thoughts, he proceeded to take a nap, so apparently he's confident in this prediction.
|I always vote for the guys in green because they score goals.|
Tortie: Timbers 15, Orlando City 9
The interview for Tortie's thoughts turned out to be another crazy torrent of meows and eeps. I lost track of her noises when asking about the Timbers because she was so excited about there being lots of goals, but she definitely eeped more for the home team in terms of goals. One of these days, the crazy predictions just might turn out right.
|There will be a goal, but it won't for the home team|
Spot: Timbers 0, Orlando City 1
Okay, she didn't pick a scoreless draw this week, but much like GB, Spot didn't think much about the Timbers or their chances against Orlando City. She went silent when asked about the Timbers and Diego Valeri continuing his streak of goal scoring, but when asked about the opponent, she uttered one single mew. I was shocked that she actually picked a score for once, so let's run with it.
|It's getting close to when black cats rule and all others drool|
Moya: Timbers 7, Orlando City 4
Considering that both offenses can score goals and the defenses can be rather random, Moya's thoughts about this match don't actually sound that off. She didn't give any indication about who will score for Portland, but just meowed out 7 times for the home side. She also meowed some for the visitors, but since she did more for the Timbers, we'll give her some slack for this one.
|MMMMMM. Heavily caffeinated beverage. Drool.|
Kip: Timbers 3, Orlando City 2
As good as the Timbers have been over the last few weeks - the result in Salt Lake as a small exception - they have yet to beat Orlando City. In both meetings, the Timbers have been beaten rather handily. With Orlando City having several offensive weapons available, it's a surprise that they've struggled so bad until you look at their defense. Since neither team's defense will light the world on fire, I'm picking the Timbers simply because they've been in better recent form. And yes, Diego continues the streak for another week.