The Portland Timbers are becoming one of the most exciting teams in MLS, and it has plenty to do with the emergence of Fanendo Adi.
The Nigerian forward has turned in a pair of two-goal efforts in as many starts since debuting last month, and he could now feature for the first time in front of his home fans as the high-scoring Timbers host FC Dallas on Wednesday night.
Portland (4-4-7) has scored half of its 26 goals in its last five matches, including six in its last two. Adi recorded his second brace in Saturday's 3-1 victory at Real Salt Lake, and went on to be recognized with MLS Player of the Week honors.
Adi also scored twice May 28 at Chivas USA. Two of his three substitute appearances have come at Providence Park, but he's only been on display at home for a total of 40 minutes.
"He is on fire," captain Will Johnson told the club's official website. "... The goal where Adi just muscles a guy - you can't teach that, it's just instinctive. A big physical guy and the way that he scored that first goal, it just kind of opened them up a little bit, and really it was tough for them to bounce back from that."
Johnson scored from the penalty spot against Salt Lake, giving the midfielder goals in consecutive games. Add in forwards Maximiliano Urruti and Gaston Fernandez, who lead the club with six goals each, and Caleb Porter feels like a coach in a candy store when it comes to selection.
"We have three strikers that are all performing and are all a little bit different," Porter said. "... It allows me to pick a player based on form, based on the game, the opponent, based on schedule. Adi is a guy that if you start him he's going to bring pace, power, air play."
Portland has lost once in eight matches. Dallas (6-7-3) finds itself in considerably different circumstances, though it ended its eight-match winless streak with Saturday's 3-2 home victory over Colorado.
Andres Escobar, Zach Loyd and Fabian Castillo scored, with Castillo's game-winning strike giving the Colombian forward four goals in 15 starts after scoring twice in 26 a season ago.
"It was pretty spectacular seeing him do what he does, gliding and dancing through people," Loyd told the team's official website. "But to put that finishing touch on it was great to see and a huge confidence builder for him going into Portland."
Team-wise, that confidence could be harder to come by considering an 0-3-1 all-time record in Portland. Dallas is 1-4-2 on the road this season, with one point out of its last five away matches while failing to score more than a goal.
Dallas did beat Portland 2-1 at home on March 29 behind goals from Blas Perez and Mauro Diaz.
Diaz has scored in both career matches against the Timbers, though he remains sidelined with a right knee injury. Perez has two goals in four starts in the series.
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