Playoff hopefuls Union, Timbers desperate for win

With the Philadelphia Union winless in its last seven Major League Soccer matches, the club hosts the Portland Timbers on Saturday searching for its first win since July 17.

The Union find themselves in a similar position to where they were last week: desperate for points to strengthen their position for a playoff spot.

Philadelphia had a good chance to claim three points in its midweek fixture against the New England Revolution, but the teams played to a 4-4 draw. After an abysmal first have that saw the Union concede four goals, the team needed a dramatic rally in the second half just to salvage a point.

The very poor first half display has underlined some defensive issues that need to be resolved if Philadelphia harbors any hopes of advancing to the postseason.

"I think we've gone backwards a little bit starting with making individual mistakes with guys being unmarked and little plays that we need to clean up and not give teams easy goals," Union defender Danny Califf told "As soon as we clean that part of the game up and really go back to making it difficult for teams to score goals, we're going to be right back to being successful as a unit."

The Union will face a stern test against the in-form Timbers, and Philadelphia's Sheanon Williams is hoping to rectify the club's recent lapses in defense.

"We know we need to come out stronger from the start and that will be the goal against Portland," Williams told "It's another difficult game, but they all are in this league. You have to be ready. I think we learned a tough lesson these last two games about falling behind early. We have to fix that moving forward."

Portland has won back-to-back games for the third time this season, but has failed to string together three consecutive wins.

But Saturday's match is being played at PPL Park, and Portland has not fared well away from home this season, posting a 1-8-3 record away from Jeld-Wen Field.

"The road is tough," said Timbers midfielder Sal Zizzo. "I think you can see it with all the teams, their home records are better. It could be the travel, it could be a lot of things, but we've just got to focus on putting that all behind us and get a good result."

Portland finds itself in a similar position to Philadelphia, still holding on to hopes of making the playoffs. The Timbers find themselves in sixth place in the Western Conference with 32 points from 26 matches, while the Union are tied with the Houston Dynamo for third in the East with 35 points from its 26 matches.

The Timbers defeated the Union 1-0 in their earlier meeting this year, with the goal coming in typical fashion for the Western Conference side.

Roughly a third of Portland's goals this season have come from set pieces, and true to form, Futty Danso headed home a Jack Jewsbury free kick to claim three points against Philadelphia on May 6.