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Preview: Toronto FC looks to chop down the Timbers at home

The Reds return to BMO Field hoping to maintain their positive momentum.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Toronto FC
Toronto FC defender Chris Mavinga battles former Portland Timber forward Jeremy Ebobisse during the last match between the two clubs in April 2019
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto FC plays the Portland Timbers for the first time since 2019 on Saturday evening as the business end of the season truly commences.

With 10 regular season matches remaining, Toronto is 13th in the Eastern Conference with 26 points through 24 games. The Reds are just four points behind the Chicago Fire, who occupy the 7th and final playoff spot.


Bob Bradley’s side are undefeated in their past three MLS contests, most recently winning 4-3 at GEODIS Park against Nashville SC.

Momentum seems to be rising in the buildup to a big Saturday night game on the shores of Lake Ontario. After a rare clean sheet in Foxborough and a goal fest in Nashville, the Reds return home looking to create some consistency to close out the regular season.

Richie Laryea made his second Toronto FC debut in the Music City, assisting Jonathan Osorio on his second goal of the night. The fullback’s quality and experience should be massive for his side down the stretch.

The status of Mark-Anthony Kaye remains up in the air for the upcoming match, as the midfielder eyes a return to the lineup. Participating in training alone on Friday, it is unlikely the Canadian international sees many minutes on Saturday.

Lorenzo Insigne notched his first goal for his new club last time out, which should help the Italian shake off any pressure he may have been feeling after failing to score in his first three TFC appearances. He will be one to watch at BMO Field as he looks to score his first in front of the home crowd.

There has been some debate surrounding the starting striker role with Jesus Jimenez not having scored a goal since the 2-1 loss at home to Columbus at the end of June. After a strong start to the season, the Spanish forward has fallen off, with no goals in his last eight starts. Calls for Ayo Akinola to get some league starts seem justified, until you take a look at his recent form. The Brampton native has not failed to score in 10 straight matches in all competitions and has seemingly not impressed Bradley with his appearances off the bench.

Jesus Jimenez in action during the 2-2 draw with San Jose Earthquakes at BMO Field.
Sean Pollock/Waking The Red

It has been five years since the Reds last defeated the Timbers. The last victory came in August 2017, a dominant 4-1 display at home.

The Rose City side are among the most consistent teams in MLS year-after-year. After falling to NYCFC in MLS Cup 2021, Portland are looking to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

The 2015 MLS Cup champions are in the middle of a dogfight in the Western Conference. The Timbers sit in 7th out west, just one point above their arch-rival, the Seattle Sounders. Giovanni Savarese’s side will undoubtedly be giving it their all on the road as they look to make it out alive in a tough Western Conference.

The Timbers have not lost in 10 MLS matches and with that, currently hold the longest unbeaten streak in the league, though their last three games have all been draws.

Portland are a dangerous attacking side, having scored the fourth most goals in the league with 41. Forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda is someone the TFC defenders will have to be wary of at BMO. The Pole has six goals during his team’s ongoing unbeaten run and will be looking to punish.

Game Notes

  • Toronto FC are 4-4-2 all-time against the Timbers
  • Portland has accumulated the most yellow cards in MLS this season with 73 so far

Predicted Lineups

Toronto FC: Bono; Criscito, Mavinga, MacNaughton, Laryea; Kaye, Bradley, Osorio; Insigne, Akinola, Bernardeschi

Portland Timbers: Ivacic; Zuparic, Mabiala, Tuiloma; Loria, D. Chara, Williamson; Van Rankin; Y. Chara, Moreno; Niezgoda

Match Details

Opponent: Portland Timbers

Kickoff time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Watch: TSN

Stadium: BMO Field, Toronto, Ont.