Portland, OR – Two of Major League Soccer's youngest franchises will meet in the second week of the 2013 season as the Portland Timbers welcome the Montreal Impact to Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday.
Montreal opened its sophomore season in MLS with a 1-0 victory at Seattle Sounders FC, a surprising result given the club's 2-13-3 record away from home last term.
Marco Schallibaum was quite pleased with the performance at the always- intimidating CenturyLink Field as the first-year MLS coach got off to the best possible start with the Impact.
"I tip my hat to the team tonight, as we played a really good side and we did very well defensively," Schallibaum said after the match. "We had some difficult moments, but we were ready to battle all game and this win is very good for the team morale. Not many teams win [at CenturyLink]."
The Impact will return to the Pacific Northwest for another contest complete with a daunting atmosphere.
Portland, which joined MLS in 2011, managed just 34 points from as many games last season, but its home form was not the culprit for a second consecutive playoff absence. The Timbers posted a 7-4-6 record at Jeld-Wen in 2012, and they continued to prove that the venue is a fortress when they battled back from two goals down on Sunday to open the new season a point in a 3-3 draw with Red Bull New York.
Like Montreal, Portland is led by a man who boasted no previous MLS coaching experience. Caleb Porter assumed the managerial responsibilities during the offseason after a sensational collegiate spell as head coach at the University of Akron. On Sunday, he got his first taste of how influential the home crowd at Jeld-Wen can be.
"A huge part of our comeback had to do with attacking the north end with the Timbers Army sparking us on," Porter said. "They were behind us 100 percent, and they were like a vacuum sucking the ball into the back of the net in the second half."
A pair of defensive blunders against New York saw Portland slip into a 3-1 by halftime, but some superb play from Diego Valeri, who joined the Timbers on loan as a Designated Player during the offseason, helped get the Rose City club on level terms.
"He was tremendous," Porter said of the Argentine. "He is worth every penny. He's gifted. He's capable of pulling a rabbit out of the hat at any given moment. He's very clever in tight spaces and he can unlock teams. He's going to be a handful this year as well."
Valeri's creativity helped Portland maintain its unbeaten record in home openers and extend the club's home unbeaten streak to seven games dating back to Aug. 5, 2012.