D.C. United-Timbers Preview
Though both D.C. United and the Portland Timbers enter the weekend in playoff position, there's still likely little room for error for both sides in terms of their postseason standing.
The Timbers eye a third consecutive victory when they welcome United to Providence Park on Sunday.
D.C. (11-10-9) seems relatively firmly entrenched in playoff position within the Eastern Conference. It's also in the mix for a top-four finish and the first-round home game that comes along with that.
Portland (13-11-4), meanwhile, is above the playoff line in the West, but still has teams below it, like the Los Angeles Galaxy nipping at its heels. The Timbers have a chance to match a season high with their third consecutive victory after rallying for a 2-1 home triumph over Sporting Kansas City last weekend.
Jeremy Ebobisse (nine goals) equalized in the 83rd minute for Portland, and Brian Fernandez (11 goals in 16 MLS matches in 2019) sent the home supporters into a frenzy with his winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
"These are the types of wins that give you more belief that we're on the right path," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese, who received an undisclosed fine for verbally bashing the game officials from that match, told the club's official website.
"Of course, we can improve, but I thought the commitment from all the players defensively and when we had the ball was very good.
"Three points that we needed, Crucial, crucial three points."
Portland has won three in a row at home over D.C. United, and posted clean sheets in each of the last two.
United snapped a three-game losing streak with an obviously much-needed 3-0 victory at Montreal on Aug. 31, in its most recent contest. Ola Kamara recorded a brace and Paul Arriola came through in the 23rd minute as United did all its scoring in the first half against the Impact to halt an 0-3-1 road rut.
"Extremely proud of the guys and the way they performed," Arriola, who has scored two of his six goals on the season over his last five league contests, told United's official website.
"We understand that these games are hard. When you look at the Eastern Conference, you see how tight it is. Every game is crucial. For us to pick (points away), I think, it gives us a good confidence boost, and reassurance that when we put ourselves forward and put ourselves together, we can beat any team, anywhere."
United, though, has not won back-to-back MLS games anywhere since May 4 and 12. It last won two in a row away from home during a three-game road run from March 31-April 24.
Updated September 13, 2019