MLS

Austin FC v Portland Timbers: Neville wants more from improving visitors

By Sports Desk May 29, 2024

Phil Neville is pleased with the Portland Timbers' recent form but admits they still have a lot to work on as they prepare to face Austin FC on Wednesday.

After a run of nine games without a win in MLS, Portland have now won two of their last three outings, beating Sporting Kansas City 2-1 on Saturday.

That win moved them up to 16 points in the Western Conference, and the Timbers are now just one point behind the ninth-placed Seattle Sounders in a playoff place.

Neville was pleased with his side's reaction to a recent defeat to Minnesota United and is looking forward to building on their upturn.

"We've got two wins out of [last] three and it's what we expect, what we want. We want to keep improving. I think we've seen improvements over the last two or three weeks," he said.

"This group cares, this club cares for its players. And you can never kid a supporter and I think ours realise that we need their help - they did it against [Sporting Kansas City].

"We're building some momentum and it's a nine-point week, a week where you can move. It's a week where you can gain momentum.

"Every game in this league is difficult and now we've got to go on the road to one of the top teams and get a result there."

Austin are unbeaten in their last three matches and sit in fifth place with 23 points. Josh Wolff's side can keep the pressure on the teams above them with another three points at home.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Austin FC – Brendan Hines-Ike

Austin attempted just five shots in their draw with San Jose on Saturday, scoring with their only shot on target, a Brendan Hines-Ike header in the 44th minute. It was the first goal the defender has scored this season.

Portland Timbers – Evander

Evander recorded a goal and an assist in the Timbers' win over Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, his fourth game with at least one of each this year.

He is the second Timbers player with four games with a goal and an assist in a single season after Diego Valeri, who did so three times (2013, 2017, 2019).

MATCH PREDICTION – AUSTIN FC WIN

Austin have won five straight home matches for the first time in club history. Austin have scored in 20 straight home matches in all competitions dating back to last May 31, also the longest streak in club history.

Portland have won four of their last five matches against Austin (one draw) after the Verde won each of the first two meetings. The Timbers have won on their last two visits to Austin, having only managed two wins in their other 30 regular-season matches in Texas.

However, the Timbers are winless in seven straight away matches (two draws, five defeats) including losing the last three in a row. Portland have not had a longer road losing streak in over five years, since losing five straight on their travels in March-April 2019.

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Austin FC – 42.4%

Draw – 24.8%

Portland Timbers – 32.8%

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