MLS Preview: Timbers backed to challenge leaders, Sounders in form
Portland Timbers face Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake in the MLS on Friday, just nine days after the sides drew 3-3.
Timbers, who currently sit in fourth, were denied a win at Jeld-Wen Field in the clash thanks to a last-minute Cole Grossman goal.
Following the draw against Jason Kreis' side, Timbers were then beaten 1-0 by Seattle Sounders on Sunday thanks to a second-half Eddie Johnson effort.
However, head coach Caleb Porter believes the performance against Seattle shows his Timbers team can recover and threaten the Western Conference's top side.
"We're a hard team. We’re a tough team. We’re not going to back down, and we’ve said that all year," Porter told the official MLS website after the defeat at CenturyLink Field.
"I think you say our mentality was very good and we were tough and in it."
Porter's side were up against a Sounders attack consisting of USA captain Clint Dempsey and Johnson, with Timbers defender Michael Harrington also taking heart from the defeat.
"I thought we were fantastic," he said.
"It’s one of the most talented, if not the most talented front lines in the league, and I don’t think they really had much at all."
Sigi Schmid will be hoping Dempsey and Johnson can help his Sounders side make it five MLS wins in six games when they face Columbus Crew.
Provided Timbers lose and Colorado Rapids are beaten by Sporting Kansas City, a Sounders win would move them up to third.
Second-place LA Galaxy will be mindful of Seattle and wary of a resurgent San Jose Earthquakes side who, despite sitting in eighth place, have won four of their last five MLS fixtures.
In the Eastern Conference, leaders Montreal Impact will hope top goalscorer Marco Di Vaio can continue his hot streak against Philadelphia Union, with the former Juventus and Valencia forward having hit four goals in the past two games.
The 37-year-old got a brace against Houston Dynamo in a 5-0 win last time out while John Hackworth's Union side were on the wrong end of a 5-1 scoreline against New England Revolution.
That win took the Revolution into the play-off spots and Jay Heaps' men will look to continue their ascent in the standings against Toronto.
Bottom side DC United will look to pick up just their fourth win of the season when they take on New York Red Bulls.
Sunday's first game sees Houston Dynamo travel to Toyota Park for their clash with Chicago Fire, with both sides still having hopes of reaching the Eastern Conference play-offs.
Houston are level on points with fifth-place New England while Frank Klopas' Fire side sit two points behind the final play-off place although both have a game in hand on the men from the Gillette Stadium.
The weekend's action concludes at BC Place as the Western Conference's bottom side Chivas USA take on Vancouver Whitecaps, having been buoyed by their surprise 3-2 win over New York on Sunday.