Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of Western Conference clubs heading in opposite directions will square off at Providence Park on Saturday as the struggling Portland Timbers will play host to high-flying FC Dallas.
Dallas has produced an unbeaten record through its first four matches of the 2015 season, taking an MLS-best 10 points from the 12 on offer.
The club's bid for a fourth successive win to start the campaign was denied on Saturday with a 0-0 draw against Seattle Sounders FC, but the result looks quite respectable after Kellyn Acosta's 18th-minute red card is taken into account.
It was an otherwise drab affair that ended without a shot on target for either side, the first time in MLS history (in 4,059 games) that no shot on goal was recorded. The strategy for Dallas certainly changed following Acosta's early ejection, so it is easy to understand Oscar Pareja's pleasure with the end result.
"Tactically we were phenomenal," the FC Dallas head coach said. "We keep moving on. We keep moving forward. Obviously we wanted to gift our fans the three points but they found something else. They found character. They found a team that is fighting for this franchise and for the fans. That sometimes is victory."
While he did not see a great deal of action in last week's outing, Chris Seitz recorded his third shutout of the season.
"It feels good for us to go into these types of games at home ... when we play we have one goal: to get three points," Seitz said. "When you go down a man as early as we did, we needed to stay compact and pick our times to go forward. Credit to our guys for going forward and our defense who worked hard to keep it at zero."
While Dallas sets the pace in the MLS table, Portland is lagging far behind.
The Timbers are winless through four games, drawing their first three contests before dropping a dramatic 2-1 match to Vancouver Whitecaps FC last time out.
The early portion of Portland's season has been tarnished by conceding late goals.
Caleb Porter's men found themselves level with the Los Angeles Galaxy on home soil a fortnight ago and thought they had claimed three points after notching the go-ahead goal in stoppage time, but the visitors answered immediately to see the two sides split the points.
Last week's match ended in similar fashion, but with the Timbers coming away empty-handed. Trailing by a goal in the closing stages, Fanendo Adi equalized in the 82nd minute to put the Timbers on track for a point, but Octavio Rivero struck in the final minute to deny Portland another draw.
"I think a part of it was how aggressive we played," Porter said. "If you're forced to sit back, then you have to sit back. We had so much of the ball. I thought our possession and passing game was outstanding. We could have been maybe a little bit more precise at times and more clinical in the final third, but to play as well as well we played is a positive."