The group stage at MLS is Back Tournament has come to an end, and 16 teams will battle to reach the quarterfinals at the knockout stage. On July 28, the Portland Timbers will face FC Cincinnati in the Round of 16, and the winner will play against NYCFC.
The Portland Timbers finished on top of their group with 7 points and showed that they are among the top contenders this season. They have one the most consistent scoring attacks in the league and proved it by coming first in Group F, one of the toughest groups in the tournament. They averaged two goals per game and had success over strong MLS opponents.
For all three matches in the group stage, the Timbers controlled and had a higher possession for most matches. The players have individual skills as well as play well together as a team. With their consistent offensive strategies, Portland could reach high in the knockout phase and look to win the whole thing.
- Out: Dairon Asprilla (left knee injury)
- Unavailable: Andres Flores
Despite losing their first game after returning, FC Cincinnati was able to reserve a spot in the knockout stage after winning the next to games against Atlanta United FC and New York Red Bulls. They were able to be successful with stronger defense.
The club’s defenders have been much more cautious on defense by playing further back. They focused on protecting the net instead of aggressively pushing up the field.
Cincinnati hopes to turn things around and beat the Timbers to reach the quarterfinals. They are the underdog of this match and believe that anything can happen in the knockout stage as it is only one game, and the pressure will be mostly on the stronger team, the Timbers.
- Out: Jimmy McLaughlin (ankle injury)
- Out: Spencer Richey (concussion)
- Out: Maikel van der Werff (groin injury)
- Questionable: Jurgen Locadia (quad injury)
Jeremy Ebobisse – Portland Timbers
Over the last two seasons, Jeremy Ebobisse has matured and developed while playing in the league. He has emerged as one of the best strikers in MLS. He is one of the two players who has scored in every single game of the group stages since the season returned.
Ebobisse credited the team’s offensive scheme for his goals and wins. The midfielders have made shorter passes to him near the goal as he effectively finished with a shot or a header.
FC Cincinnati Defenders
Cincinnati sent its defenders, Kendall Waston and Mathieu Deplagne, aggressively up the field, and they managed to score in the 2019 game against the Timbers. However, Cincinnati changed its strategy and kept a 5-3-2 formation with the defenders playing further back to protect the net. The defensive tactic will be able to slow down the Timber’s offense.
Portland Timbers will take the victory against FC Cincinnati. Cincinnati will face a much different style of play from the Timbers than what they showed last year. Cincinnati beat Portland 3-0 in March 2019, but the Timbers had a more inconsistent scoring attack, and Ebobisse did not start that game.
With Ebibosse and a strong scoring attack, Portland will knock out Cincinnati in the Round of 16 and proceed to the next round.