Houston Dynamo expect to have Beasley available after injury, the full back will start ahead of Remick if fit. Coach Cabrera has swapped his goalkeepers this season, Deric preferred in the last match. Leonardo and Machado are a dominant centre back unit, supported by Cabezas who sits deep. The returns of Torres, Quioto and Elis makes the attack much more threatening, all 3 should start. The hosts have been one of the surprise packages this season and currently sit 3rd in the Western Conference. The hosts come into this game in great spirits after winning their first away match of the season. Playing at home is a major boost psychologically, Houston have yet to be beaten at BBVA Compass Stadium and are seeking revenge after a heavy defeat to visitors earlier in the season. The 4-3-3 formation has worked well for Houston this season. The hosts have lots of pace in the final third and are very effective in the transitions. Scoring first would present problems to the opposition, allowing Houston to sit deep and play on the counter attack. Houston will remain confident even if they concede first, the unbeaten home record gives players belief.
Portland Timbers are boosted by the returns of Adi and Arboleda from suspension, whilst Nagbe, Powell and Guzman are available after international duty. In the centre of defence, Olum and Mabiala formed a new partnership in the last match, with Ridgewell still injured. Chara and Guzman will play in the centre of midfield and form a strong unit, allowing Valeri to create chances for Adi. The visitors secured a much-needed win in the last match, ending a winless run which had affected belief in the group. Portland are well positioned in the playoffs and sit just behind their opponents, a win would allow them to go above the home side. Portland have already beaten the hosts once this season, big incentive to become the first away team to win at BBVA Compass Stadium this season. Coach Porter prefers to use a 4-2-3-1 formation, this allows the side to dominate the ball and also remain compact. The visitors will be aware of the counter attacking threat in the home side, expect Portland to sit deep to limit the space. A draw would be viewed as a positive result, should the score be level in the late stages expect Portland to protect the result.
Verdict & Prediction
Houston Dynamo come into this match in great spirits after winning their first away league game of the season. They are enjoying a fine season, sitting 3rd in the Western Conference which is above expectations. Coach Cabrera has allowed the players to play with freedom and take risks. The hosts have not lost a league game at home this season, 10 matches have been played so far and no defeats. The supporters create a great atmosphere and get behind the team, the players have spoken openly about the boost they get from the fans during a contest. They will expect to win this match, playing at home gives the team a huge advantage psychologically. Houston will be boosted by the returns of key players which also provides a major lift, coach Cabrera has strong competition for places with fringe players staking a claim in recent weeks.
Prediction: Houston Dynamo -0.50 Asian Handicap (Houston to win)
Odds: 1.95 Pinnacle