Mon, 22 Oct 2018
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Salt Lake City

Timbers try to solidify playoff position vs. Minnesota

Sports Xchange
23 Sep 2018, 01:38 GMT+10

The Portland Timbers look to continue their run to the MLS playoffs when they square off against Minnesota United FC on Saturday in a key late-season match at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

It's the third match in eight days for the Timbers (13-8-8), who moved up to the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings after a 3-2 victory over Columbus on Wednesday.

Portland is four points behind Sporting Kansas City for the top spot and seven points clear of the playoff line with five regular-season matches remaining, and can't afford a slip up against Minnesota United.

The Timbers got a goal and an assist from Andy Polo in Wednesday's home victory over Columbus, and a goal from David Guzman. Portland's third tally came when striker Samuel Armenteros' shot caused an own goal by the Crew. Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark made six saves.

It was the first match all year won by the Timbers when they didn't score first.

"We responded very well to the adversity," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said after the win. "With them finding the goal early and for us to react right away and raise the level was fantastic. That's something we spoke about the past few days we've been practicing. The attitude was perfect -- right after the goal there was a belief that we were going to get back into it."

The Loons, meanwhile, head home for the first time in more than a month after 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake on Sept. 15. Despite claiming a point in that match, Minnesota United (9-16-3) dropped in the standings to 10th and 14 points behind Seattle, who occupies the sixth and final playoff spot in the West.

A fatigued Minnesota club was forced to use a different lineup against Real Salt Lake after a 2-1 loss at D.C. United on Sept. 12. The Loons allowed a goal in the 11th minute before evening the score in the 84th minute on Darwin Quintero's tally.

"I was so disappointed in our first-half performance -- to say it was passive would be an understatement," Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath said. "(In the second half) we were everything we weren't in the first half. We played on the front foot, played good football, tried to stretch the pitch and tried to play in behind.

"Toward the end I was disappointed we didn't actually win the game because I thought we looked the most likely. You can certainly say it was a game of two halves, but it was stark warning for me. We cannot play like that on the road in the first half."

The Loons are 0-5-2 in their past seven matches and haven't won since a 5-1 victory at home over Los Angeles FC on July 22. Minnesota United is in search of the dominant home form from earlier in the season that saw it win three of its first four matches in front of its supporters.

Portland beat the Loons in Minnesota 3-2 on April 14 in the first meeting this season.

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