Portland, OR – The Portland Timbers will go for their first win of the season on Saturday when the club engages in a tough interconference battle with the Houston Dynamo at JELD-WEN Field.
In the Timbers' last match, midfielder Will Johnson netted a second-half double as Portland battled back from a 2-0 deficit to salvage a point in a 2-2 draw with the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Dillon Powers opened the scoring for Colorado 18 minutes in with a rocket into the top right corner from outside the box.
Just after halftime, Hendry Thomas converted a penalty kick to widen the advantage, but Johnson scored twice in the second half to ensure a point for his side.
"We've kind of been the comeback kids, Portland head coach Caleb Porter said of his team's resilience. "We don't want to be coming back as much as we have been. People will focus on the negatives, and obviously there are some negatives: we haven't won a game in four and we've given up the first goal in four games."
"I'm focused on the positives," Porter continued. "We've only lost one game. As much as we haven't won a game, four times we played a team, and we've only lost one game, and that's to the team at the top of the table. We're all competitors, we all want three points, it's just not happening as quickly as we want. For me, I'm going to focus on the positives, and how much progress we've made in the last two years, and how much progress we've made from last year. That's a 3-0 game last year."
Houston, meanwhile, is coming off a comfortable 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes at BBVA Compass Stadium to extend their remarkable unbeaten streak on home soil to 34 consecutive matches.
Young striker Will Bruin broke the ice in the 17th minute and Giles Barnes added a second goal before the halftime whistle to all but put it away for Houston.
"I think it puts them under pressure and it rewards the guys for their hard work," Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear said of his team's good first half. "I think every game we step on the field, home or away, I'd like to see the guys impose their will on the other team. It gives you confidence, a boost of energy, when you get the first goal. Then the second goal right before half time was a really good one for us."
While the Dynamo have been seemingly untouchable at home, away from the friendly confines of BBVA, it's a bit of a different story.
The Dynamo won just once on the road last season in regular-season games and know they have a tough task on their hands in Portland.
Dynamo defender Eric Brunner has a unique take on the Timbers' home ground after playing in Portland for the past two seasons before being acquired by Houston this offseason.
"The way the stadium's set up, the sound stays inside, there's a giant building in the back that keeps the vibrations and noise bouncing off," he said. "It stays pretty loud so you have to be on your toes when you're playing there."