Match Preview: MNUFC vs Portland Timbers

Only 72 hours after they last took the pitch, Minnesota United FC will return to Allianz Field on Saturday, May 18, to host the Portland Timbers. It is a very different match-up than the Loons’ midweek bout: While the LA Galaxy came in (and left) even with the Loons on points, the Timbers sit in 11th place with half the wins (3) and three times the losses (6) of their hosts. But Minnesota prepares for every match the same, regardless of the opponent. The only twist in the approach this week comes from the timeline.

Form (W-L-D)

MIN: 2nd in West (21 pts.), 6-2-3 (2-1-3 at home), GD +6. Last 5: D-W-W-W-L

POR: 11th in West (13 pts.), 3-6-4 (1-4-2 on the road), GD -2. Last 5: W-D-D-L-W

Series – MNUFC

Overall: 8-3-2 (25 GF, 20 GA)

Home*: 5-0-1 (8 GF, 10 GA)

*MNUFC has yet to lose to Portland on home turf.


MIN: Out: J. Adebayo-Smith (Ankle), H. Bacharach (Knee), H. Dotson (Thigh), M. Nyeman (Thigh), E. Reynoso (Not due to injury). Questionable: None.

POR: Out: C. Bravo (Lower leg) M. Loria (Knee). Questionable: None.

Training Notes with Coach Ramsay

  • Preparation for Portland looked a lot different from the bye-week prep for the LA Galaxy so training and regeneration had to happen simultaneously: “It’s our first experience of this so far this year, so we were obviously conscious of making sure that we keep training to a minimum where we can, use video where we can, and keep the players off their feet. I think there’s real regeneration to being out here in the sun. And I did want the players in relatively quickly after the session, but you’ll see this: 12 of them are out there playing with mini balls. And I think in some senses like that, that’s as good a thing as they can do today. So I’m really pleased where the group is, obviously we’ve got lots of players we can call across a few positions, so we’re happy going into tomorrow.”
  • Asked if the tendency for Wil Trapp and Robin Lod to switch sides when paired up in midfield is a planned tactic or up to their own discretion, Ramsay delivered a guarded, yet detailed, explanation: “So we will pick the sides pretty strategically, depending on who we play. Obviously we won’t give away the reasons behind it. I’m sure you can come to your own conclusions, given who we’ve played against in the last couple of games. But obviously you’ve got two players there with very different qualities: one that’s very attack minded and really wants to make the box. You’ve got another that’s less that way inclined, that is much more of a sort of link with the back line and someone that is probably slightly more defensive minded. So I think when those two play alongside one another, you have to be sensible with with how you use them. And that’s got to fit into the broader plan. So yeah, we do think about that very carefully.”
  • The club is taking no chances with Kervin Arriaga’s injury recovery. After netting the equalizer on Wednesday, Arriaga was sent for a scan because of a “grumble with his hamstring”. Ramsay explained, “So we want to be completely sure on that, but obviously he’s a player that’s played a lot recently” and “As I’ve said repeatedly, I sort of look at these opportunities or these situations more as there always being a silver lining to who is going to make the team. And I don’t want to go into June with only 12 fit players to call upon. So I think if we ended up with sort of 17 or 18 with good minutes in the legs, then that’s definitely a better situation to be in for us.”

Portland Perspective

In a perfect world, we would all be able to keep up with an entire league’s worth of multi-match weeks but, since we have yet to cross paths with Saturday’s opponent this season (and since their come-from-behind 4-2 win over San Jose had to compete with Raquinho for headlines on Wednesday), we brought in a Portland perspective. Sheba Rawson-Ybarra has been a Timbers season ticket holder since 2004 and serves on the Timbers Army/107IST board. She gave us a primer on Portland’s work-in-progress season and named some players to watch for:

The Timbers have their work cut out for them against the Loons. They consistently leak goals: only basement dwelling San Jose has surrendered more goals than Portland this season. The Timbers keeper, Max Crepeau, is a solid starter for the Canadian National Team, as is defender Kamal Miller. But the Timbers defense is still working on functioning as a unit, and is often outmatched by their opponents. Portland’s offense is slightly better. Designated player and Brazilian national number 10, Evander, can fool you, seeming to disappear for long stretches in games, only to suddenly emerge with a thirty-yard cracking screamer into the top corner of the goal. And newly acquired Uruguayan DP Jonathan Rodriguez is a quality striker. The Timbers haven’t always figured out just how to build an offense around him, but he is also adept at finding his own way to make scores happen, with four goals and two assists since his signing this year.

Other players of interest: Chilean striker Felipe Mora. The guy has a nose for the goal and is adept at making something out of nothing, and at finding trash in front of the goal and scooting deftly in for a score. Brazilian forward/winger Antony. He’s young and he has everything good and bad that comes with youth: speed, enthusiasm, and unpredictability. When he’s off, his shots can go wildly off target. When he’s on, his speed will burn your defense and he’ll find the score. You never know which Antony will show up for the match, but either way he won’t be boring!

“Either way it won’t be boring” is an apt descriptor of this match-up, as well. Our thanks to Sheba for the overview.

Match Miscellany

  • Portland head coach Phil Neville spent over half of his playing career at Manchester United (263 appearances, 1994-2005), where Minnesota head coach Eric Ramsay recently worked as an assistant manager. While they’ve crossed paths, according to Ramsay, they have yet to meet.
  • Cameron Knowles, Ramsay’s own assistant, spent the majority of his playing career with the Portland Timbers (77 appearances, 2007-2010) and returned to that club to begin his coaching career in 2012. He served as assistant from 2012 to 2017, then Timbers 2 head coach from 2018-2021 before taking the same role with MNUFC2.
  • Last Sunday, the Portland Timbers announced a new shirt sponsorship with Oregon’s own dairy cooperative, Tillamook. Given our staff’s proclivities for ice cream, we would be remiss if we did not recognize Tillamook’s arrival on the MLS scene…

Tim’s Top Three Tillamook Ice Cream Flavors

#3: Chocolate Hazelnut

Tillamook released this new chocolate collection a few months back and I was super excited to try it. I had the brownie batter first and it was ok but didn’t really stand out. This chocolate hazelnut is what I currently have in my freezer and it does not miss. Dark chocolate ice cream with hazelnuts and hazelnut butter swirl. It’s a great ice cream and it gets extra points for leaning to its Oregonian-ness by going hard with the hazelnut. I guarantee someone who thought this up wanted to call it dark chocolate filbert.

#2: Cookies and Cream

It’s a standard flavor but they do it really well. Perfect amount of cookie chunks in French vanilla ice cream. Once again, up there in quality with many local small batch shops. One of the best cookies and cream options you’ll find.

#1: Sea Salt Honeycomb Toffee

This is one of my favorite ice cream/custards in production. This not only has the sweet and salty flavor combo that I love but has the texture balance the creamy custard and crunchy toffee bits. Absolutely perfect. I don’t think they are making the custard version anymore but they have an ice cream version now that tempts me every time I’m in the freezer aisle at Target.

If you enjoyed this unsponsored review, check out Tim’s Flavor of the Matchday thread.


Saturday is supposed to be a beautiful day (ice cream weather, in fact) and could only get better with three points and Wonderwall for the Loons. The match will kick off at 7:30 PM CT (actual 7:39 PM) and will stream on Apple-MLS Season Pass. As always, Northland Soccer will be there for written and photographic coverage so follow along and COYL


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