Free MLS Picks and Predictions for Friday 3/3
For the first time ever, fans will catch a glimpse of one of the newest MLS outfits when Minnesota United takes the pitch on Friday night against the Portland Timbers. MNUFC was founded 22 months ago and will begin play at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
In February of 2016, the team put forth plans to build a new soccer-specific venue with 21,500 seats set to open in 2018. The Loons aren’t expected to challenge for a playoff spot in year one, but stranger things have happened.
They’ll play their first official game on Friday night in the hostile environment of Providence Park in Portland against the Timbers.
These two clubs actually met for a preseason affair back on February 12th at the same venue and wound up drawing 2-2. The Timbers really used the game to get a look at their backups, though, and started 11 players that aren’t expected to start the regular season opener. As a result, we can’t draw too many conclusions from the preseason matchup.
The backups started and played the first 60 minutes or so before most of the regular 11 were put into the game for the final half hour.
MNUFC actually took an early 2-0 lead in the game off of a pair of goals from Johan Venegas. Venegas is likely to factor into the Loons’ regular plans this season, and he’ll be looking to build off that productive preseason.
While Portland failed in its quest to repeat as champions last season, they have established a dominant home field edge over the last several years. While they were terrible on the road (0-6-11 away last season), they were a dominant 12-2-3 at Providence Park. There was no other team in the league with such drastic home/road splits. While they’ll certainly be looking to improve on that shoddy road record, there is no reason to believe they won’t keep steamrolling through competition at home.
So, while the Minnesota United players will be amped in their first ever game, it’s safe to expect the Timbers to get the job done in their own park.