3 Takeaways From The Portland Timbers’ Three-Game Losing Streak – Will They Turn It Around?

After the Portland Timbers played their first six games of the 2024 Major League Soccer regular season, a big question has emerged among supporters of the storied club.

How good are the Timbers, exactly?

They dominated their first three matches of the year by scoring eight goals and playing an attractive attacking style of football that had fans excited about what the squad could achieve in the coming months. However, in their last three games, they’ve conceded seven goals and struggled to maintain their earlier form. Pundits have started claiming that the Green and Gold just went on a Cinderella run at the beginning of the season and have fallen back down to earth. 

There is a lot to talk about regarding Portland’s recent outings, so let’s get right into it. 

1. The Defense Needs Work 

The first thing General Manager Ned Grabavoy and the rest of his staff accomplished this offseason was strengthening a weak backline that had a disastrous 2023. They brought in a proven starting center-back in Kamal Miller and rebuilt their goalkeeping core by signing Maxime Crépeau, James Pantemis, and Trey Muse. 

The new-look defense has yet to be impressive so far. The Timbers have the 28th-most shots blocked in MLS, are tied for second in goals allowed, and have allowed opponents to score  five goals off set pieces. The transition defense has been just as bad as last year, if not worse, and key defenders like Zac McGraw and Juan David Mosquera have been abysmal, which has raised serious concerns. 

Head Coach Phil Neville has acknowledged this worrying trend when talking to the media and said that they are actively working on fixing the issues, but improvements remain to be seen.

2. Rodríguez Sparks Hope

One of the few bright spots from the Timbers’ three-game losing streak is that new signing Jonathan Rodríguez shined in his debut. Rodríguez, who joined the club on March 20, entered the starting lineup three days later and scored a consolation goal in the 80th minute of Portland’s 3-1 defeat to Philadelphia. 

Overall, the Timbers have been remarkable on offense. They have the third most goals scored in MLS, and with the firepower of Mora, Rodríguez, Evander, Antony, and Santiago Moreno, it is safe to expect many more goals to come in the future. 

3. Tough Schedule Ahead

One factor that will make it hard for the Timbers to start winning games is their challenging schedule ahead. Four of their next five matches are on the road, which means traveling thousands of miles away from Providence Park.

Given that they lost eight road games last year, the Timbers face an uphill battle. They’ll need to continue to score goals while defending a lot better on set pieces and in transition to be competitive against these sides, or else they may collapse tremendously. 

Despite their recent struggles, there are still 28 games left in the regular season, which is plenty of time to get back on track and make a strong push for the playoffs. Their next opportunity comes this upcoming Saturday when they’ll play a regular-season match against Sporting KC at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas. Kickoff is scheduled for 10:30 AM, and you can catch all the action on Apple TV.

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