Match Preview

Match Preview: Charlotte FC vs Portland Timbers


Charlotte FC’s momentum has faltered in recent weeks after consecutive losses to Minnesota United – which snapped a 14-game unbeaten streak at Bank of America Stadium – and New York City FC.

Now, though, the team has a critical month of May ahead that features a distinct advantage: four of their six matches at home. The first of those four Saturday home matches is this weekend against the Portland Timbers, a team that CLTFC has never faced before.

Head Coach Dean Smith and his players will view this match as a key opportunity to reignite momentum in their season and begin climbing the table as summer approaches.

Match: Charlotte FC vs Portland Timbers

When: Saturday, May 4

Where: Bank of America Stadium

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET

Watch: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV – How to Watch & Listen

Listen: WFNZ 92.7 FM (English) & WOLS 106.1 FM (Spanish)

For all other radio station affiliates in the Carolinas, click here.

Know Before You Go: For information on tickets, stadium entry, and more, click here.

Previous Matches:

Charlotte FC 1 – 2 New York City FC (Major League Soccer | April 27)

Portland Timbers 2 – 3 LAFC (Major League Soccer | April 27)

Eastern Conference Table: For the full live table, click here.

7. Philadelphia Union – 13 points, 9 GP

8. DC United – 13 points, 10 GP

9. Atlanta United – 12 points, 9 GP

---------- Playoff Line ----------

10. CF Montreal – 12 points, 9 GP

11. Charlotte FC – 11 points, 10 GP

Leveraging Strong Starts

Today, I’ll turn things over to Head Coach Dean Smith straight away.

“I think after 10 games, that [not scoring early opportunities] has been the story of our season. So far, we've missed too many chances and not taken enough chances to punish teams.”

That was Smith in this week’s pre-match press conference. It’s indicative of an unfortunate reality over the course of the first third of the 2024 season: Charlotte FC consistently comes out of the gates flying but fails to convert their big chances. At times, the team has held on strongly for wins, but at other times, they have faded down the stretch and dropped points.

The question for the coaching staff and the players is two-fold, then. First, how do they finish more of those early chances to give themselves a better cushion later in matches? And second, how do they better sustain those strong starts over a full 90 minutes?

We’ve seen the answers to those questions in fits and bursts, but Smith will be looking for his team to be more consistent over a run of consecutive matches.

This Saturday, there will be pressure on both strikers (Patrick Agyemang and Enzo Copetti) to deliver goals in crucial moments, especially with Kerwin Vargas (2 goals, tied for the team lead with Agyemang) out through yellow card suspension.

The good news, though, is that CLTFC almost always gives themselves a fighting chance.

“Minnesota was the poorest performance so far this season,” said Dean Smith. “We had a five-minute spell where we could have conceded three goals, we did concede two [goals], and the game got away from us.

“But in every other game, we've been in them. And we've probably had the better chances in them games as well. And that's something that we're continuously working on [finishing those chances].

“You know, I can see that the players want to do well. But there is also an anxiety because of the pressures, which is natural. Our job [the coaching staff] is to try and take that anxiety away from them.”

The Opponent

The Portland Timbers have had a tumultuous season so far. They started the year by hiring a brand-new Head Coach, bringing in Phil Neville who was previously let go by Inter Miami before their Tata Martino/Lionel Messi era began.

So far, Neville has brought plenty of high-octane excitement, but the results have not been flowing in. Currently, they sit in 12th place in the Western Conference, boast the league’s third-best attack (20 goals), and possess the league’s second-worst defense (21 goals).

If those stats gave you whiplash, you would get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a Timbers fan so far this season.

A quick glance at their last five results tells the story: 2-3 loss, 3-3 draw, 2-2 draw, 2-2 draw, and another 3-2 loss. Only once have they failed to score (a 1-0 loss to Houston Dynamo), which also happens to be one of only two times they have allowed less than 2 goals.

“They're drawing a lot of games,” said Dean Smith when asked about Portland. “I mean, I think they’re showing loads of character because in some of these games they have been a couple of goals down and come back.

“But you look at their goal tally: 21 conceded, 20 scored. I think that tells you the story of their season so far. So, we know they're going to be a threat offensively, and we've got to try and pick the same holes that other teams have picked so far.”

The centerpiece of their attack is Brazilian attacking midfielder Evander, who was brought in for a big multi-million dollar transfer last season and is now hitting his stride in his sophomore season. He is tied for the team lead with four goals and has the ability to create magic out of nothing.

However, the Timbers have offensive weapons and goal production littered across the field. Ultimately, they will be a stiff test for a Charlotte FC defense that has been consistently strong throughout the season so far.


The Season So Far

CLTFC won their first match of the season over NYCFC with a gritty 1-0 win at home. They then faced three consecutive games on the road, securing a 1-1 draw in Vancouver before tight losses to Toronto (1-0) and Nashville (2-1).

Upon finally returning to Bank of America Stadium, the team impressively downed the defending MLS Cup Champions, the Columbus Crew, by a 2-0 score. Then, they secured another impressive result, drawing the defending Supporter’s Shield Champions, FC Cincinnati, in a 1-1 match.

After a disappointing road loss in New England, CLTFC won a thrilling back-and-forth match against Toronto at home courtesy of a late Patrick Agyemang match-winner but then suffered two disappointing results in a row with losses to Minnesota and NYCFC.

Now, after snapping their 14-match unbeaten streak at Bank of America Stadium two weeks ago, the team will be trying to reignite momentum at the start of a critical month of matches.

May 4 | Star Wars Night | Lightsaber Foam Stick Giveaway

May 4 | Star Wars Night | Lightsaber Foam Stick Giveaway

Get to The Bank at lightspeed! The first fans to arrive will receive a lightsaber foam stick presented by Daimler Truck North America!