On Sunday afternoon, the Portland Timbers kick off the 2020 regular season against Minnesota United. Here are three things to watch for.
On Sunday afternoon, the Portland Timbers kick off the 2020 regular season facing a familiar foe as Minnesota United come to Providence Park. The Timbers open their home schedule for the third time in the past four seasons against the Loons, whom they defeated 5-1 in 2017 and 3-2 in 2018.
Overall, the Timbers are undefeated in their three home meetings with the Loons, going 2-0-1, but Minnesota has had the upper hand in their past four meetings, going 3-0-1, including last year’s victory over the Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup semi-final. With a swathe of offseason additions, the Timbers will be hoping for a fast start.
Here are three things to watch for when the Portland Timbers face Minnesota United on Sunday.
3. A new-look attack
The Portland Timbers appeared to have their attack figured out when they signed Brian Fernandez from Necaxa in May. He rewarded them by hitting the back of the net 11 times in his first 14 appearances for the club. Unfortunately, he quickly disappeared after that, as did the Timbers attacking threat, averaging just one goal per game to close out the season, including a 319-minute scoreless drought.
Fernandez has since left the Timbers, and Portland responded by bringing in three new attacking pieces: speedy right-winger Yimmi Chara, the younger brother of defensive midfielder Diego Chara, forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda, who was leading the Polish First Division scorer with 14 goals at the time of his signing, and versatile forward Felipe Mora, who scored 53 goals in four seasons between the Chilean Primera Division and Liga MX.
With Diego Valeri still pulling the strings in the middle of the pitch, Sebastian Blanco running things from the left, and the potential for one of the new forwards to join the recently-extended Jeremy Ebobisse in a two-striker setup, the Timbers have a chance to have one of the most dangerous attacks in MLS. A rebuilt attack needs time to gel, of course, and the Loons are returning all of their defensive starters from last years’ squad, save for new goalkeeper Tyler Miller, but it will be fascinating to see how this new-look attack performs.