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Preview: NYCFC vs. Portland Timbers | MLS is Back Tournament, Quarterfinals

2020 MLS is Back Tournament – Quarterfinals
New York City FC vs. Portland Timbers
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Sat., August 1 – 10:30 PM ET

TV: FS1, TUDN, FOX Deportes; TSN in Canada

STREAMING: FOX Sports App, TUDN App; TSN App in Canada

It's one of the most intriguing matchups of the quarterfinal round: two savvy teams with personality, big-game players and perennially high expectations clash in a match that will be tough to predict. Expect NYCFC to keep possession with Portland picking their moments to pounce.

These two clubs have faced each other five times in MLS regular season history with Portland owning a commanding 4W-1L-0T record. The lone NYCFC win came on May 15, 2016 in Portland and it's worth noting that Portland's Sebastian Blanco scored in the last two meetings.

Savarese would seem to have NYCFC figured out with regular season victories in 2018 and 2019 with the Timbers and U.S. Open Cup triumphs in 2015 (on PKs) and 2016 when he led the NY Cosmos.

NYCFC

They're making the most of the lifeline they were granted when a combination of group stage results sent them through to the knockouts as one of the best third-place teams. They made it count by ousting Toronto FC with a vintage NYCFC quality performance.

That round of 16 result showed just how important playmaker Maxi Moralez is to their fortunes. His magic has helped their vaunted attackers come to life, including forward Valentin Castellanos who got his first goal of 2020. With Moralez back and forwards Heber and Castellanos scoring goals, NYCFC will feel like they have as good a chance at the title as any team left standing. 

Project Starting XI
  • Updated team roster
  • Injury Report:
    • OUT: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (M) - hamstring injury
    • OUT: Gedion Zelalem (M) - knee injury
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None

Portland Timbers

You can always count on the fight and competitive spirit from Giovanni Savarese's Timbers and they showed it in every match of their tournament so far, tying high-flying LAFC 2-2 and beating the LA Galaxy 2-1 in a tough Group F, before eliminating FC Cincinnati in a tight contest. They're in every match they play thanks to Savarese's tactical scheming which seeks to take advantage of each opponent.

In the meantime, they've been inspired by Sebastian Blanco, who seems to deliver the game-breaking play in every match and now he finally has big signing Jaroslaw Niezgoda available as a target. The Polish striker made his debut for the club in Orlando and already has two goals in his last two games. Who starts against NYCFC? Savarese says that Niezgoda, Ebobisse and Felipe Mora are all healthy to contend for the spot.

Project Starting XI
  • Updated team roster
  • Injury Report:
    • OUT: Dairon Asprilla (M) - left knee injury
    • QUESTIONABLE: Marco Farfan (D) - right ankle injury
    • UNAVAILABLE: Andres Flores (M)
  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: None
  • International duty: None

Series Matchup

  • NYCFC: 1 win, 2 goals
  • Timbers: 4 wins, 7 goals
  • 0 draws

Officials

  • Referee: Robert Sibiga
  • Assistant Referees: Jose da Silva, Cory Richardson
  • 4th Official: Ramy Touchan
  • VAR: Allen Chapman

Jerseys

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