D.C. United, Timbers face off with eye on playoffs
Field Level Mediaon
A pair of teams clinging to playoff eligibility will try to build some momentum as D.C. United take a cross-country trip to Portland to face the Timbers on Sunday afternoon.
The Timbers (13-11-4, 43 points) sit just one point above the playoff line in the Western Conference, a proud feat considering an 0-5-1 start to the season while they played 12 consecutive games on the road as their stadium expansion was completed.
The reverse of that scheduling is Portland's current run of 10 consecutive home games. They are 4-2-0 six games into that run and are coming off consecutive victories, including a thrilling 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 7, when they equalized in the 83rd minute and won it in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
The Timbers will enter Sunday's game feeling as good as they have all season.
"These are the moments that you see the character of a team, and you saw it (against Sporting KC)," Portland head coach Giovanni Savarese said. "I think the guys performed very well. They stepped on the field, they had the ideas clear. ... All around, it was a very good performance."
Portland will have just five games remaining after Sunday to maintain its playoff status, with four of those games at home.
D.C. United (11-10-9, 42 points) also sit just above the playoff line in the Eastern Conference, coming off a key 3-0 victory over the Montreal Impact on Aug. 31, and will be well-rested heading into Portland. That victory halted a three-game losing streak.
But the team's current 2-5-1 run, going back to a July 21 defeat to Atlanta United FC, does not suggest it will head into Portland with a full head of steam.
"We've got some talented players, we've got some guys that can make plays" D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said. "But to me, right now, it starts with the defensive effort. We've been working quite a bit on that, and I think you saw a good effort with that in Montreal."
Over its last four defeats, D.C. has been outscored 11-3.
Portland is 3-1-1 in five home games all-time against D.C. United.