KeyBank Match-up of the Match: Timbers Road Record vs. Chivas USA's Home Record
Last weekend’s off-kilter loss to D.C. United notwithstanding, the Portland Timbers have established a veritable citadel of home field mastery at JELD-WEN Field. Sellouts, chainsaws, goals, rain, Timbers Army, and above all, an emergence of gritty, energetic strong play have given the team a 5-1-0 home record in MLS regular season play. With the stated goal of head coach John Spencer being a trip to the playoffs in this inaugural MLS year, the Timbers are certainly making the most of getting near maximum points while at home.
Going on the road for Portland, however, has been a different matter. Set up with an opening month of away trips, the boys in green had a challenging start to their inaugural MLS campaign. Blitzed by the Colorado Rapids on First Kick, knocked around by Toronto FC, and downright walloped by LA Galaxy, the Timbers have had a rough go of it.
That said, there was the gritty draw away at New England Revolution and a downright celebratory 1-1 tie in rival Seattle Sounders FC home ground, but the team has yet to win while on the road.
Their trip to Chivas USA brings them to the shared ground of the Home Depot Center—a place that I’m sure many Timbers feel they have some unfinished business with given their unpleasant episode with the Galaxy on the same pitch.
Curiously however, Chivas USA’s experiences at HDC field have been anything but friendly. With only one win in six tries at home, the Rojiblancos have been the near polar opposite of the Timbers.
And it is that dichotomy that brings us to Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up of the Match.
KeyBank Match-up of the Match
Chivas USA is not the same team that the Timbers faced back at Merlo Field in a U.S. Open Cup play-in victory. Heath Pearce is coming into form and Justin Braun has how flashes of brilliance with a hat trick against the New York Red Bulls. That same victory in New York remains as one of the few among MLS teams after traveling cross country through three time zones. In fact, Chivas USA’s road record is a respectable 2-1-3.
However, for the Rojiblancos to make it, they’re going to need to win at home which should, in theory, be easier but has, in fact, proven to be more difficult. Their only win at the HDC was a 3-0 shutout of the Revolution at the end of April. Most recently, they gave up the lead against Vancouver Whitecaps two minutes after scoring to settle for a 1-1 draw this past Wednesday night. That inability to close things out at home has been a thorn in first-year head coach Robin Fraser’s side.
For the Timbers, the need to crack through for a first road win is growing and given the two contrasting records of the teams, something will have to give on Saturday night.
Despite the frustrations of last Sunday’s loss, Spencer and his staff have the team re-focused and ready to take on the next challenge. A quick trip down to the sun and a growing confidence that this team can and will play well could get the Timbers their first victory away from the friendly confines of JELD-WEN Field.