The late game on the Major League Soccer schedule on Saturday is Portland vs Montreal, currently fourth in the Western and sixth in the East. The Timbers are tough to beat at home and are favored on the latest soccer odds, but let’s see if the Impact can pull off the upset.
Portland vs Montreal MLS Betting Preview & Expert Pick
At the halfway point of the 2018 MLS season, the Timbers (8-3-6, 30 points) sit in fourth place in the Western Conference standings and third place in the West on points per game. The club is also riding a 12-game unbeaten streak in MLS play.
Coach Giovanni Savarese deserves a lot of credit for the club’s success. The former New York Cosmos head coach had a rough start to his MLS coaching career as the Timbers looked out of sync in two straight road losses to open the season, including a 4-0 rout to a second-string New York Red Bulls team on March 10.
However, after that loss the coach made the decision to change his system and formation, moving away from the 4-2-3-1 that were synonymous with the Timbers under former Coach Caleb Porter and instead employing a more defensive-focused 4-3-2-1 formation. It took until the sixth game of the season for Portland to earn its first win, but the club hasn’t looked back since that point.
The Timbers’ last MLS game was Sunday and they tied LAFC 0-0. That extended Portland’s unbeaten streak to 12 matches with eight wins and four draws. Portland was inches from scoring early in the second half only to see a strike from Samuel Armenteros hit the post. Portland’s Jeff Attinella earned his fifth clean sheet with six saves, including one on a snap header by Carlos Vela in the 93rd minute.
Timbers midfielder Diego Chara will miss this game because of yellow-card accumulation after receiving a caution in the first half vs. LAFC.
LAFC and Portland played again on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup and LAFC won 3-2. However, the Timbers are protesting that loss because of the number of foreign players in LAFC’s lineup. U.S. Soccer announced the draw to decide the hosts of the next rounds would be delayed while it investigates the complaint. The USOC rules say teams fielding ineligible players are “subject to fines or other penalties, including game forfeiture.”
It was the first time LAFC had defeated the Timbers, with Portland having taken four points from the teams’ two meetings in Major League Soccer. In all competitions, it ended the Timbers’ 14-game unbeaten streak.
The Impact beat San Jose 2-0 on Saturday. Ignacio Piatti had a goal and an assist and Evan Bush had two saves. Saphir Taider also scored for Montreal, which moved to within one point of the fifth-place New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference. The Impact, who started the season with a 3-10-0 record, has won six of their last eight matches, five of them by shutout.
On Tuesday, the Impact has acquired $400,000 in Targeted Allocation Money from the Chicago Fire in return for midfielder Raheem Edwards. Edwards played 14 games, including nine starts, and 808 minutes this season with the Impact, scoring two goals.
Montreal played again on Wednesday, not in the US Open Cup but in the Canadian Championship semifinal and beat Vancouver 1-0. Impact goalkeeper Clement Diop, playing for the first time this season in place of Evan Bush, recorded the clean sheet. Alejandro Silva scored the game’s only goal in the 58th minute.
“Keeping a clean sheet was very important with the away goals rule,” said Impact head coach Rémi Garde. “We would have liked to score the second one as well, as we know it will be a difficult task on the West Coast. But we still are in a good position to progress.”
The Impact directed seven shots at the Whitecaps’ net, although Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic was credited with making only one save. Montreal controlled possession for 60.4 percent over the opening 45 minutes.
Montreal started the MLS season slowly under first-year head coach Garde. But the Impact has won six of its last eight league games to climb into sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Montreal has won its last five MLS games at home, while outscoring the opposition 10-1 and is 7-3 overall at Saputo Stadium. Indeed, the Impact hasn’t lost on its home pitch since May 21.
Expert Portland vs Montreal Prediction
Impact aren’t the same team on the road. Take Portland.