Portland Timbers have scored 20 goals and allowed 20 this year. However, seven of those goals came in a rout of Sporting Kansas City on May 15. Take away those seven and the picture that remains is a team with a mediocre attack and a leaky defense. 

But that’s too reductive: The Timbers scored more than one goal just twice in their first 11 games, but now they’ve tallied multiple times in two of three matches. It might be worrying that they have allowed more than a goal in two of three as well, but overall this appears more like an inconsistent side than one that’s struggling. 

Philadelphia Union, then, are faced with an opponent that can be exposed defensively but may also be finding its feet in attack. Philly needs to retain what has been one of the league’s best defenses while adding a bit of finishing in order to get back on track. Still sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings, Jim Curtin’s side hasn’t won in five matches. They have created chances but haven’t finished them, and they have been stellar defensively but not perfect. This has put the club in a very strong playoff position but still searching for the type of run that can show they are capable of hitting another gear and making a run to the MLS Cup. 

Julian Carranza and Jose Martinez will be available for selection after missing out against Inter Miami due to loan terms and yellow card accumulation respectively. Martinez’s return allows Jack Elliott to slide back into defense while Carranza should allow Daniel Gazdag a shorter outlet in transition as the other striker pushes the back line deep. 

Curtin said in his press conference that Mikael Uhre will not feature in Portland, meaning Cory Burke and Sergio Santos will likely compete to be the option to stretch the field. Both strikers have shown a willingness to work up front but haven’t found their finishing touch consistently in 2022. 

The disappointment of drawing with Miami at home on Wednesday was tempered by the strong performances Philly’s homegrowns put in off the bench. Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, Nathan Harriel, and Jack McGlynn combined to pin Miami back in the final third of the match. As frustrations grew, the academy products continued to fight but didn’t let their emotions lead to poor decision-making. Curtin needs this group to grow in influence as the season rolls on. 

Action begins at 10:00 p.m. ET as the Union and Timbers face off on national television, live on FS1.

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For U Kit Now Available

The For U kit pays homage to the early days of the Union and was designed with the help of the fan-based Creators’ Collective to feature details reflective of the city and its fans.