Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United FC Pick & Prediction MAR 18th 2023

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Stadium Atlanta
Logo Portland Timbers
Logo Atlanta United FC

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No matter how many Portland players might be missing Saturday night in Atlanta - and the latest figure is eight -- Atlanta United coach Gonzalo Pineda says he knows better than to overlook the Timbers.

"If I know something about Portland, it's they're always competitive," said Pineda, who faced the Timbers many times as a player and assistant coach for the Seattle Sounders, Portland's fiercest rival. "So, I don't think they're a team that are going to be feeling sorry for themselves for having a lot of injuries. They are going to come with everything trying to beat us."

Among the Timbers (1-2-0, 3 points) expected to miss the game are standouts Sebastian Blanco (knee), Yimmi Chara (hamstring), Cristhian Paredes (hamstring) and Evander (hip).

"It's unfortunate," Timbers midfielder Eryk Williamson said of the injury issues. "It's part of the game, and ultimately we have to know that it's the next man up. Guys have to be ready to play. We've got a roster full of guys that are ready to step up and make their mark on the team."

Portland is coming off a 2-1 home loss to St. Louis City, as the expansion team rallied after the Timbers' Zac McGraw headed in a corner kick in the third minute of the match.

But just nine minutes later, Evander -- the Brazilian attacking midfielder for whom Portland paid a club-record transfer free to acquire in the offseason -- came off the field with the hip injury.

The Timbers finished with just three shots on goal as St. Louis scored in extra time of the first half and midway through the second.

"We put a good fight with good energy, but we need to make better decisions in the final third," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "If we make some better decisions in the final third, we can capitalize and take advantage of those moments that we had. ... We got too comfortable in the game."

Atlanta (2-0-1, 7 points) is off to the franchise's best start after a 3-0 victory last weekend against Charlotte. Caleb Wiley had two goals and an assist for the Five Stripes, becoming the fifth-youngest player in league history (18 years, 79 days) to contribute to at least three goals in a match.

This will be Portland's first trip to Mercedes Benz Stadium since losing the 2018 MLS Cup final 2-0 to host Atlanta.

--Field Level Media

Portland Timbers vs. Atlanta United FC Recap MAR 18TH 2023

Thiago Almada had two goals and two assists as host Atlanta United FC defeated the injury-riddled Portland Timbers 5-1 Saturday night.

Caleb Wiley added a goal and an assist, and Georgios Giakoumakis and Luiz Araujo also scored for Atlanta (3-0-1, 10 points), which is off to the best start in franchise history.

Tega Ikoba scored for the Timbers (1-3-0, 3 points), who suffered their third consecutive defeat. Portland was without eight players because of injuries.

Wiley opened the scoring on the counterattack in the 25th minute.

Following a Portland corner kick, Atlanta quickly cleared the ball to midfield, where two Timbers defenders ran into each other, allowing the ball to fall to Almada. He chipped a pass to Wiley to start a breakaway and the 18-year-old dribbled into the penalty area before putting a left-footed shot past hard-charging Portland goalie Aljaz Ivacic and into the lower right corner of the net.

Giakoumakis, making his first MLS start, nearly doubled the lead in the 29th minute but his 10-yard shot was smothered by Ivacic at the right post.

Almada made it 2-0 in first-half stoppage time, banking a free kick from 30 yards high off the right post and into the net.

Giakoumakis had a 48th-minute tally called back because he was offside. He got his first goal in the 59th as Wiley's cross from the left wing found the forward alone about 10 yards out from the right post and he put a header into the near upper corner.

Araujo took a long lead pass from Almada, dribbled into the penalty area and put a 15-yard shot into the lower right corner of the net in the 75th minute.

Portland got its lone goal in the 83rd minute on Ikoba's header from the top of the 6-yard box off a cross from Diego Gutierrez.

Almada capped the scoring in the 86th minute, taking a pass from Derrick Etienne Jr. at the top of the penalty area, spinning and putting a 15-yard shot into the lower right corner.

The Timbers appeared to take the lead in the 2nd minute as Eryk Williamson launched a 25-yard shot just inside the right post. But a video review determined Jaroslaw Niezgoda was offside.

--Field Level Media
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