The Portland Timbers are looking at the bigger picture as opposed to their club-record 11-game unbeaten streak.
The visiting Timbers will be short-handed Saturday night when they look for their fourth win in as many tries against the Chicago Fire.
Portland (5-1-7) owns the fewest losses in MLS, entering on a 5-0-6 run. The Timbers have not played a league match since beating D.C. United 2-0 on May 25.
Coach Caleb Porter has indicated he doesn't want to focus on the unbeaten streak, choosing instead to divide the season into segments. He's pointing to his club's four MLS games this month.
"I like to kind of chunk the season up and for me, the next four games are what we're focused on," Porter said. "Certainly within that one game at a time, we're not going to look past Chicago."
The Timbers are six points behind Western Conference-leading FC Dallas, which visits Portland next Saturday.
"The way we see it, if we take care of business the next two games, we can tie Dallas because they're off this weekend and then they come to us next weekend," Porter said.
Portland, 2-0-5 on the road, will be without several key players due to national team duty. Among that group are forwards Ryan Johnson (Jamaica) and Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica), both tied for second on the team with four goals.
Porter is counting on Frederic Piquionne, who started alongside both forwards in the Timbers' last MLS contest, to pick up the slack. Piquionne scored four goals in a 5-1 win over Wilmington in U.S. Open Cup play May 29 in Portland's most recent match.
"With Ryan Johnson out right now with the Jamaican national team on international duty, Freddy's going to be the guy," Porter said. "So really we're focused on Chicago and Piquionne will be in there for that game."
Milos Kocic will likely get his first start in place of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, also with Jamaica.
Portland has outscored Chicago 7-3 in capturing all three previous meetings, including a 2-1 victory in the lone 2012 matchup.
Fire newcomer Mike Magee scored in his first game with his new club Sunday, a 2-0 victory over league-worst United. Magee, acquired in the deal that sent Robbie Rogers to Los Angeles on May 25, knows that Chicago (3-7-2) is in for a bigger challenge this weekend.
"I think they're the hardest team to play against in the league," said Magee about Portland. "They have a team that wants to possess the ball, and they're fit and strong. I think they feel that if they can possess it for the majority of the game, by the end of the game, they'll beat you with fitness."
Magee is tied for third in MLS with seven goals.
The Timbers' formidable midfield should get a boost with the return of Diego Valeri, who missed one game with a hamstring injury.
The Fire feel they are turning the corner with a draw and a victory since re-acquiring defender Bakary Soumare on May 23 from Philadelphia. Soumare played for the Fire between 2007-09.
Chicago has won three of its last four at home.
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- Caleb Porter