While the Portland Timbers are enjoying their longest unbeaten streak in team history, coach Caleb Porter believes they still have room to grow.
That doesn't bode well for the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have already had an especially rough go in the series.
The visiting Timbers try to extend their run to 10 and continue their domination of the Whitecaps as these Cascadia Cup rivals square off Saturday night.
Rodney Wallace, Diego Valeri and Will Johnson scored as Portland (4-1-6) cruised to its most lopsided win of the season, 3-0 over Chivas USA on Sunday. The Timbers have allowed seven goals during their 4-0-5 run.
"We're not where we want to be yet, which is what makes it scary, we can be even better," Porter told MLS' official website. "We don't just walk out on the field and automatically, magically think we're going to win games. We know we're going to have to put the work in for 90 minutes to get out of the game what we want.
"The reason we've been on a nine-game run without losing is because we stay humble and hungry and we won't get complacent or overconfident."
Besides its recent stingy play, Portland is tied for second in MLS with 1.64 goals per game. The Timbers, who missed the playoffs in their first two seasons in the league, sit in second place in the Western Conference.
"What you see out of these guys is they're very hungry, they understand the purpose of what we're trying to do and they see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is obviously making the playoffs," Porter added. "That's our goal, but they're also not forgetting about the little minor steps we have to take in every game."
The Timbers now turn their attention to the Whitecaps (3-4-3), whom they've limited to three goals while going 4-0-1 in the series - including a pair of 1-0 road wins. Vancouver, though, is 3-0-2 at home, and Porter isn't expecting anything to come easy this time around.
"We have a very difficult game at Vancouver," he said. "But if we continue to have good work in training like we have, it will show up in the game."
The Whitecaps are coming off Wednesday's scoreless draw at Montreal in the first leg of the Canadian Championship finals. In its most recent league match, Vancouver snapped an 0-4-3 streak by posting its highest goal total of the year in a 3-1 win over Los Angeles last Saturday. Midfielder Russell Teibert had his first two MLS goals and Darren Mattocks also scored.
"At home, we're definitely doing well," coach Martin Rennie said. "I think a win like today gives us that extra belief and a spring to everybody's step. I think it was a very significant win for us."
Saturday marks the Whitecaps' first match against a Cascadia opponent. Reigning Cascadia Cup champion Portland played to a 1-all draw versus Seattle on March 16.
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