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Atlanta United travels to the Pacific Northwest to face Portland Timbers on Sunday at Providence Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET and the game will be nationally broadcast. 

Sunday marks the second consecutive road match for Atlanta United. The team is coming off a tough road loss to Eastern Conference leaders, Philadelphia Union. While the visitors went toe-to-toe with the Supporters Shield contenders for most of the first half, Philadelphia ran away with it in the second 45 and Atlanta United fell 4-1

Luckily, the team has another match on Sunday and a quick turnaround might be exactly what Atlanta United needs. The midweek match means that Atlanta United traveled straight from Philadelphia to Portland, making a 2,400-mile trip coast-to-coast. Back-to-back games on the road leaves little time to linger on the loss and players eager to get back to the pitch.  

“We have to move very quickly onto the next game,” defender Juanjo Purata said. “We can’t get stuck on the last match. We’ve got to look at the things that went wrong and try to fix them. But we’ve got games coming very quickly now, so we have to turn the page and move on to the next one.”

Juanjo-Purata-Philadelphia

Portland As Soccer City USA 

Portland Timbers is a Western Conference club based in the Pacific Northwest. Portland Timbers joined MLS in 2009 as an expansion club and played its inaugural season in 2011. 

The city of Portland has one of the richest histories in American soccer, so much so it’s often referred to as “Soccer City, USA.” The Timbers began their history as an expansion club in the original North American Soccer League (NASL). In the inaugural season in NASL, Portland featured home crowds of over 20,000 and went all the way to the championship, the Soccer Bowl. The club went on to compete in USL, winning the USL First Division Commissioner’s Cup as regular-season champion in 2004 and 2009, before beginning its MLS era. 

The Timbers’ early success continued in MLS. The club has made three appearances in the MLS Cup Finals (2015, 2018, 2021) and won the title in 2015. 

The club’s brand pays homage to the logging industry prevalent in the Pacific Northwest and the chevrons in the design represent pine trees. The team’s secondary kit is pink and crimson, featuring roses in the design to allude to the city’s nickname, the City of Roses. 

  • Home venue: Providence Park 
  • Main colors: Green, gold 
  • Head coach: Giovanni Savarese 
  • CEO and Owner: Merritt Paulson 
  • Title: MLS Cup (2015) 

2018 MLS Cup Rematch 

This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Atlanta United and Portland Timbers, and Atlanta has dominated the series. Atlanta United is unbeaten in four meetings against Portland. The club holds a 1-0-1 record on the road, out-scoring Portland by a combined six goals to two. In its previous visit to Providence Park on Aug. 18, 2019, Atlanta defeated Portland 2-0. 

The most memorable meeting between the two sides occurred in 2018 when the clubs met in the MLS Cup. Portland, the champion out of the Western Conference, traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face the Atlanta United out of the East. Atlanta United went on to win 2-0 and win the first trophy in club history.

MLS Cup 2018 Atlanta United vs. Portland Timbers

Four years later, the teams meet again – this time at Providence Park. Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda expects a similar type of game as the one Sunday against Philadelphia Union. He wants his team to establish control, play its attack-minded style of creating chances and have something that may be most important in this moment: belief.

“Portland is a team that prioritizes defending, high pressure, how they press becomes how they’re going to attack,” Pineda said. “They’re very good on set pieces, and it can turn into a similar game where we might have control of the game in many parts, but they can hurt you in any transitional moment.”

Two Clubs In The Boxing Ring

Both Atlanta United and Portland Timbers enter Sunday’s match with playoff hopes. Portland Timbers have a 9-8-12 record with 39 points, good enough to be above the playoff line in seventh place in the Western Conference table. Atlanta United holds an 8-11-9 record with 33 points and currently ranks 11th in the Eastern Conference table.

Both teams enter the matchup on Sunday coming off meetings with two of the best teams in their respective conferences. On Wednesday, Atlanta United lost 4-1 to Eastern Conference leaders, Philadelphia Union. Meanwhile, Portland Timbers fared much better in their matchup against one of the best in the West, beating Austin FC 2-1 at Q2 Stadium.

Therefore, Portland has a little more momentum on its side riding a two-match winning streak. However, prior to the Philadelphia match, Atlanta United had earned three straight road results. With both teams toward the middle of their conferences, the stakes for Sunday’s match are high.

“If you compare this to a boxing match, we just lost the last round, but there’s another one and the bell’s about to ring,” Pineda said. “We need to be ready to because the opponent is going to come with everything. We need to be ready for the next fight, and that’s the process we’re going to do,” Pineda said.

Key 2022 Stats and League Ranking
Atlanta United
Portland Timbers
Possession
48.3% (19th)
58% (T-1st)
Expected Goals per 90 Minutes
1.47 (11th)
1.5 (8th)
Key Passes
250 (5th)
321 (1st)
Tackles Won
344 (2nd)
294 (t-8th)

Players To Watch 

Andrew Gutman – It’s hard not to notice the beautiful bald head that belongs to Andrew Gutman, but the 25-year-old fullback has also had a memorable month for the 5-Stripes. He scored the lone goal in the match against Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. The goal was his third on the season and his third in the last six matches. Gutman has scored more in those six matches than he had in the first 65 matches of his MLS career. His remarkable run of form earned him Performer of the Month honors for August.

Bill Tuiloma – The central midfielder from New Zealand is one of the veterans on the Portland Timbers side. August 23 marked a major milestone for Tuiloma as he made his 100th appearance for the club. The veteran is also making the most of his 5-foot-10 frame. In the team’s 2-1 win over Austin FC, he scored his fifth header of the season, which ranks best in the league behind only FC Cincinnati’s Brandon Vázquez.

Other Tidbits

It’s a 5:30 p.m. ET kickoff for Portland Timbers and Atlanta United. Click here to learn all the ways to watch, listen and live stream the match.