After winning consecutive road matches for the first time in their MLS history, the Portland Timbers return home looking to improve on an unbeaten streak that extends back more than a year.
The confident Timbers will try to build their regular-season home unbeaten streak to 23 games Sunday night in a Cascadia Cup matchup with the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have yet to beat them in four seasons of MLS play.
Portland (3-3-7) last lost at Providence Park in the regular season on March 9, 2013, and is 12-0-10 since. The Timbers have not been shut out in seven home games this season but have won only once.
They also have a six-match overall unbeaten streak after Wednesday's 2-0 win at Chivas USA. Fanendo Adi scored in the 65th and 71st minutes, his first MLS goals in his first start, as the Timbers strung together consecutive wins for the first time this season after winning 2-1 in New York last Saturday.
Coach Caleb Porter made eight lineup changes between the two matches and still managed six road points.
"The plan was all along to play a group in New York, turn around, play pretty much a different group ... which means now we come back to Vancouver with fresh options even though we've just played two games in five days," Porter said.
"Again, I think this week we showed no matter what we're up against, we've got guys that can step in to do a job. We're looking forward to Vancouver, we know with a win there we can jump them in the table."
Portland is a point behind Vancouver for fifth in the Western Conference and is 4-0-4 in this all-time series, but it is the Whitecaps who currently hold the Cascadia Cup. The Timbers had captured three of the previous four in the annual competition among the three Pacific Northwest MLS clubs.
Vancouver (4-2-5) has a five-game unbeaten streak of its own after playing to a 2-2 home draw with Seattle last Saturday.
Erik Hurtado started and scored for the second straight match after scoring his first MLS goal in a 1-0 victory at Columbus on May 10. Gershon Koffie also scored, giving the Whitecaps nine goal scorers this season, which led MLS heading into the weekend.
Against the Timbers, Vancouver will again focus on its midfield and let the goal scoring fall to whomever it may.
"If you can win the midfield battle, as I put it, and dominate that area then you've got a good chance of winning the game," coach Carl Robinson told the league's official website. "That's not to say you win it every time but it gives you a good platform to build on, not just on the defensive side by stopping them but also on the attacking side. If we can dominate that area, I think we have the attacking weapons that can create chances."
Robinson will have forward Darren Mattocks back from a two-match absence while away with the Jamaica national team.
Defensively, though, the Whitecaps will be without defenders Steven Beitashour and Carlyle Mitchell due to international call-ups, leaving the club's Jay DeMerit-led back line a little thinner as it focuses on Portland's new target, Adi.
"He's a big, athletic guy and really brings a different element for them," DeMerit said. "Most of the guys that play up front for them are tricky guys or guys that have a bit of flair. So he brings a different element, more of a physical side."
The clubs drew all three 2013 matches.
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- Portland Timbers
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