Los Angeles FC have dominated MLS so far this season and are hoping to exert a similar stranglehold on the Open Cup. But in Portland Timbers they face stubborn opponents with a track record of success who would love to add this trophy to their collection.
LAFC Edge the Head to Head
LAFC are one of the newest franchises in US football, joining MLS in the 2018 campaign, but they have made a strong start and that is reflected in their head to head record against one of the country’s longest-established MLS teams. Portland won their first ever meeting, in May 2018, and their second fixture in July last year ended in a 0-0 draw in Los Angeles.
But this season, LAFC have turned the tables. They thrashed the Timbers 4-1 in Los Angeles in March and then pulled off a 3-2 win in Portland at the beginning of June.
LA the Team to Beat
If there was any fear that the newest LA franchise would be overshadowed by their illustrious neighbours, that hasn’t come to pass. While LA Galaxy are having a good season, they have been eclipsed by LAFC. Bob Bradley’s team have lost just twice all season, have a nine-point lead at the top of the Western Conference, ahead of Galaxy and warmed up for this game by beating Sporting Kansas and Vancouver by an aggregate score of 11-2.
Portland’s Early Struggles
In stark contrast, Portland are still struggling to overcome the effects of a slow start to the season that saw them lose five of their first six. They have shown signs of improvement in recent weeks and beat FC Dallas and New York City FC in their last two MLS outings, though they remain some way off the pace in the West. They also deserve some credit for having beaten two of the stronger teams in US football: local rivals Seattle Sounders and LA Galaxy, en route to the quarter-finals.
Don’t Write Off the Timbers
LAFC are the favourites here, at around the 2/5 mark, but as ever in this competition, motivation and team selection are key. Portland certainly seem to be taking this tournament seriously, while LAFC have other priorities, so some football punters may be tempted by the 13/2 price for an away win.