Although the Portland Timbers’ attack has slowed down a bit in consecutive draws, they should like their chances of getting untracked Sunday.
That’s because they are hosting a Chivas USA team that has been porous defensively and will be without their starting goalkeeper and a key midfielder.
Portland (3-1-6) is seeking improvement after totaling one goal over its last two matches after scoring 14 in its first eight. According to their web site, the Timbers have enjoyed more possession of the ball in every match this season, but forward Darlington Nagbe doesn’t believe teams have figured out how to slow them down.
“I think it was just us not being as sharp as we have been in the past,” he told the website.
The Timbers remain unbeaten in a club-record eight straight games since a 2-1 home loss to Montreal on March 9.
Portland lost all three meetings to Chivas USA (3-4-2) last season, with Dan Kennedy posting two clean sheets.
Kennedy won’t be available since he was sent off in the 54th minute of last Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City. Patrick McLain will start after allowing two goals over the remainder of that contest in his MLS debut.
“It was unfortunate about the goals and at this point, I’m just looking forward to this weekend and to trying to help our team pick up three points,” McLain told Chivas’ official website.
Chivas also won’t have midfielder Carlos Alvarez, suspended two games and fined an undisclosed amount by the MLS on Thursday for ‘violent conduct.’ Alvarez kicked the ball at Peterson Joseph’s head while the Kansas City player lay on the ground last weekend.
Chivas has not posted a clean sheet all season, allowing 15 goals - eight during an 0-3-1 slide.
Spanish-speaking first-year coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola is known for his colorful expressions in his native tongue, and he didn’t mince words after his team suffered its worst loss.
“We didn’t advance from this game. We have stopped and we still have a lot to do,” he said.
No current Chivas USA player has scored more than one goal after Juan Agudelo was traded this week to New England.
Midfielder Eric Avila, who has one goal and two assists, knows that Chivas will be an underdog Sunday.
“It’s always fun playing at Portland, the atmosphere is fantastic,” Avila said. “The crowd is going to be very excited and fast-going, so we need to try and slow that down just a bit. We’re very motivated.”
Portland coach Caleb Porter was fined an undisclosed amount for criticizing the officials after Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at FC Dallas. The Timbers conceded a penalty kick that was converted in the 77th minute after Andrew Jean-Baptiste was called for pulling down Dallas’ Blas Perez in the box.
“I thought we deserved to get three points out of that game,” Porter said. “It’s hard to win a game when you’re playing against 12 men. That’s just completely unfair.”
Portland’s Donovan Ricketts has gone 300 minutes at home without conceding a goal.
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