The Portland Timbers will put their MLS club record eight-match unbeaten run to the test on Sunday when it welcomes Chivas USA to Jeld-Wen Field.
Portland continued its fine start to the season by earning a 1-1 draw at FC Dallas on Wednesday, a result that helped the club maintain its distinction of being the only MLS club without a road loss so far. While the Timbers were unlucky not to come away with all three points, a road point against the best team in the league should not be taken lightly.
The club's road form indicates a change in culture compared to last season, and the catalyst for such appears to be its new head coach, Caleb Porter.
"The key thing for me is this team always just fights and works and presses," said Porter. "They're an honest group. They have a ton of belief. They're a tight team. Those things are going to carry us through.
"So we'll just keep plugging away. And in the end, a point here on the road against the best team in the league is nothing to hang our heads about."
Perhaps the only criticism that can be sent Portland's way is its inability to turn draws into wins. Sixty percent of the club's matches have ended in tie, and while the Timbers occupy third place in the Western Conference on 15 points, a victory for Chivas on Sunday would see just one point separate the two sides with the Goats holding a game in hand.
Chivas has blown hot and cold through its first nine matches of the season and it arrives at Jeld-Wen on a cold streak. The Goats had their winless run extended to four games last Sunday following a resounding 4-0 loss at Sporting Kansas City.
"We didn't advance from this game. We have stopped and we still have a lot to do," said Chivas head coach Jose Luis Sanchez Sola. "We need to deal with teams like Sporting KC and we don't know how. ... I don't really know how many teams like this one we may find in the league, but we simply don't have what it takes to compete."
Sanchez Sola's sentiments do not bode well for Chivas USA's chances of claiming a positive result at Jeld-Wen after the Timbers picked up a 3-2 victory at Sporting Park just two weeks ago. Transitive logic would say that the Goats do not stand a chance.
But Sanchez Sola loves his side to attack, and the Goats are 3-0-2 when they have produced a goal and 0-4-0 when they have been shut out.
"My idea is to attack," said the Chivas boss. "When two teams attack, the strongest and most powerful wins. I don't understand soccer in any other way that is not attacking."