The Portland Timbers continue their push for a playoff spot on Saturday at the StubHub Center against Chivas USA, and the team is hoping to carry some momentum into the contest from last weekend.
The Timbers snapped a two-game losing skid with a 4-0 win over Toronto FC, but it was the way Portland won the game that should be the biggest source of confidence for the team.
Caleb Porter's side has given away points on numerous occasions late in games this season, and with the club holding on to a 1-0 lead in the last 10 minutes against TFC, it seemed possible for lightning to strike again.
But instead, the Timbers netted three goals in the final seven minutes to close out the game and will hope to continue that form against last-place Chivas.
"That's been an issue for us recently when we've given up points," Porter acknowledged after the win against TFC. "They had some corner kicks and we're at 1-0 and we're one play away from losing the game and our guys looked very big and up for it in those moments. That's key. We can build on that. There have been other games where we've shrunk in those moments and not made plays and in this game we did make plays."
Portland enters the weekend tied in fourth place with Colorado in a crowded Western Conference, so three points against a struggling team like Chivas is a must if the Timbers are to continue their push up the table.
Porter's side secured a comfortable 3-0 win over the Goats in May in the first meeting between the teams, but Portland goalkeeper Milos Kocic feels that Saturday's match will provide a different test.
"We're going to Chivas USA now, and I think it's going to be a very interesting game because they are not the same team we played against at the beginning of the year," Kocic said following last weekend's win. "I think they're much stronger now and it's going to be a tough test for us."
Chivas is coming off of a 1-0 victory over D.C. United last time out, marking the team's sixth win of the campaign.
A loss or draw against the Timbers on Saturday would officially eliminate Chivas from postseason play, but as goalkeeper Dan Kennedy said, the rest of this season is still very much about the team making small improvements.
"It shows that there are improvements, we managed the game a little bit better, so we came away with three points," Kennedy said after his side beat United. "In order to be successful in this league, we have to be able to close out games and we are just learning how to do that. It obviously helps when we have guys like Carlos [Bocanegra] and Bobby [Burling] in the back just doing the dirty work. It's part of our learning process."
Portland didn't have to contend with Chivas forward Erick Torres back in May, and that will be the biggest difference as the 20-year-old has emerged as the team's most dangerous offensive weapon.
Since joining Chivas in July Torres has bagged seven goals in nine games, including all five that the team has scored in the last four contests.