New York City FC vs Portland Timbers: Preview and Prediction

New York City FC will look for their first points of the 2024 MLS season when they visit the Portland Timbers on Saturday at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

It has been another difficult start to a season for New York City FC, as they are once again missing that decisive attacking quality ahead of the visit of Portland Timbers. The Boys in Blue might have a new-look kit and a new-look squad.

But the first matches of the 2024 season are giving us flashbacks. Two games, zero goals, a total of four shots on target. After two ugly losses on the road, NYCFC will breathe a sigh of relief knowing they return to the Big Apple for their next game.

As for Portland Timbers, they missed the 2023 MLS Playoffs by one point. But they have started this season strongly, winning the season opener 4-1 against the Colorado Rapids and then drawing 2-2 with DC United, which has lifted them to the top of the Western Conference.

Team News & Tactics

New York City FC

The Pigeons will be missing veteran James Sands this weekend after he got a straight red card in the defeat against St. Louis, while Talles Magno missed that game due to a sore knee. Maxi Moralez has not played a minute yet this season and is still out with a right knee injury. Rio Hope-Gund has an abdominal issue, while Tayvon Gray’s status is questionable due to a leg injury.

Agustin Ojeda made his first MLS debut last weekend, Andres Perea made his first regular-season appearance, and Jovan Mijatovic is vying for his first start for New York City FC after coming on for Keaton Parks in the second half last weekend.

Nick Cushing decided to make some changes to his lineup last time out. NYCFC switched to a 4-3-3 formation with a midfield that featured Sands, Keaton Parks, and Andres Perea. Santi Rodriguez started as the left-winger for the injured Talles Magno, Hannes Wolf was on the right, and Mounsef Bakrar led the line as No. 9. It will be interesting to see if Cushing changes his setup for this pivotal game.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Freese; Ilenic, Martins, Risa, O’Toole; Parks, Perea; Fernandez, Rodriguez, Wolf; Bakrar

Portland Timbers

For the Timbers, Evander and Felipe Mora are both doubts due to foot injuries. This game will most likely come too soon for Marvin Loria and veteran goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who are both recovering from left knee injuries.

Phil Neville’s Portland struggled to cope against a well-organised pressing scheme last time out, and so Saturday will come down to how well they play out under pressure. With the limited space the field at Yankee Stadium offers, Paredes and Chara will have very little room to try to move the ball as quickly as they need to retain it.

Antony and Santiago Moreno will add flair and technical ability to the side from out-wide. Up top, Nathan Fogaca could come in for Eryk Williamson to replace Dairon Asprilla, who scored against DC United.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Crepeau; Mosquera, McGraw, K. Miller, E. Miller; Moreno, Paredes, Chara, Antony; Fogaca, Asprilla

Key Stats

  • NYCFC last win over the Timbers was recorded eight years ago.
  • New York City have not scored a goal so far this season.
  • Portland Timbers have won both of their Major League Soccer games thus far.
  • Portland are undefeated against NYC away from home, failing to concede a single goal on three separate visits.

Player to Watch

Santiago Moreno

Embed from Getty Images

Colombian winger/midfielder Santiago Moreno netted his 11th career goal for Portland Timbers last weekend and has seamlessly inherited the role of dynamic attacker that Sebastian Blanco’s absence left.

He has been electric in that spot, and along with the ad-hoc playmaking from Eryk Williamson, he has helped ensure that Portland’s midfield still makes things happen and creates a plethora of chances for striker Dairon Asprilla even with the continued absence of record-signing Evander.


New York City FC 0-1 Portland Timbers

Morale is quite low in the New York City FC camp right now. The Pigeons might need some time to find that creativity, which could unlock opposing defences. Portland Timbers, on the other hand, have shown themselves to be a deadly side in the final third so far in 2024. On paper and by form, the visitors are probably favoured in this one. The Hard Tackle predicts a 1-0 win for the away side.

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