The 10th and 11th-placed teams in the Western Conference will face each other in what could prove to be a decisive fixture for each of them. Austin FC will host the Portland Timbers with both teams sitting just outside the final playoff spots. Tied on 33 points, a win boosts either team into the postseason picture. A draw, on the other hand, could devastate their chances of playing in the MLS Final Series.
Austin FC faces the Portland Timbers in a Potential Play-Off Deciding Game
Austin comes into the game floundering while Portland has begun to pick up speed. In their past three games, the Texas club has drawn with the New England Revolution and suffered losses to the Seattle Sounders and FC Dallas. The West Coast giants, meanwhile, beat LAFC and Real Salt Lake on either side of a tense rivalry match with the Sounders that saw the game end at two goals a piece.
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The Timbers have scored two goals in each of their games since August 26. During that same stretch, Austin has only managed to average one goal a game. The club from the Texas capital normally enjoys the larger share of possession. Portland, however, does not see as much of the ball but is known to create and convert chances at a much higher rate than their opponents.
Players to Watch
Evander, the attacking midfielder from Brazil, is a crucial player to watch for Portland. Since completing a move to the Timbers from Danish club Midtjylland last Winter, he has managed to net five times. For Austin FC, longtime forward Sebastian Driussi can be expected to produce an offensive spark. The Argentine has scored dozens of goals since joining from Russia outlet Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2021.
Touchdown in the Lone Star State pic.twitter.com/FLGEgdATbW
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) September 15, 2023
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Two central defenders who have or are still representing their countries on the international stage will play a big role in deciding how the math plays out. Miguel Araujo of Peru anchors Portland’s back line and will be integral to containing Driussi. Julio Cascante, a former Timbers player, patrols the field waiting for someone to try and score against Austin or Costa Rica.
Odds and Expectations for Austin FC vs. Portland Timbers
Surprisingly, despite their opponent’s superior form, the odds favor Austin over Portland. Expect the Timbers to allow the hosts the larger share of possession, but the West Coast club should have little problem breaking through the back line and finding goals. It will be a close match, and each team must make the most of their chances. Kickoff time is 8:30 PM EST, 7:30 PM CST, and 5:30 PM PST.