The defending MLS Western Conference champion Portland Timbers have garnered only two points in their first four games heading into Sunday’s contest at Orlando City SC, but at least they have an excuse.
Portland (0-2-2), coming in off back-to-back draws with Dallas (1-1) and Chicago (2-2), opened the season with a five-game road trip that ends with Sunday’s nationally televised (4 p.m. ET ESPN) contest at Orlando City Stadium. The Timbers play four of their next five at home, where they compiled a 11-2-4 record last season.
The reason for the lengthy road trip to open the season is an ongoing $55 million stadium expansion project at Providence Park that will add approximately 4,000 seats and is scheduled to conclude in the spring of 2019. The Timbers currently have 13,000 fans on their season ticket wait list and the expansion project will add between 3,000 to 3,200 new season tickets for the team.
Orlando City (1-2-1, 4 points), which finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last season with just 39 points, will try to build on a wild 4-3 victory over the New York Red Bulls on March 31. Forward Dom Dwyer had a brace in his 2018 debut, which was won in the 86th minute as Josue Colman deflected in a goal on a strike by Scott Sutter.
“We know we need a result,” Lions head coach Jason Kreis told MLSsoccer.com. “We need to start going here. We need to win matches in a row. We need to get on winning streaks in order to do anything in this league. That’s our intent.”
Portland midfielder Diego Valeri, who had 21 goals and 11 assists while winning the MLS MVP award last season, scored his first goal of the season in the draw at Chicago while 30-year-old Argentine midfielder Sebastian Blanco, who has three goals and an assist this season, had a goal and an assist.
“Portland doesn’t have a win but Portland hasn’t played a home game,” Kreis said. “If you look at the performances you see a quality, quality side there with some very gifted attacking players in Valeri and Blanco and (Fanendo) Adi up top and guys that are joining in from midfield and outside backs that both get forward very well.”
—Field Level Media