BEAVERTON, Ore. – The Portland Timbers have not won away from Providence Park in 2016. And they have never won a regular-season match at CenturyLink Field.
So is disappointment inevitable for the club and its fans when they face off against rival Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday evening (6:30pm PT, FS1)?
Not so fast, say the Timbers.
In head coach Caleb Porter’s view, the results – both his team’s 0-6-6 road mark this season and disappointment in past visits to Seattle – don’t accurately reflect the Timbers’ performances.
“We’ve been bad with results on the road, but we haven’t been bad in our performances overall,” Porter said.
Beginning with an April visit to the LA Galaxy, Portland took leads in six consecutive away matches, but lost two of them and drew four. In the other two draws, they held then-conference leading Colorado scoreless in July and scored two goals after the 75th minute to draw 2-2 against RSL in March.
“A lot of times you get the first [win], which we have [in the past], which we should’ve [this year], and then it builds,” Porter explained.
Seattle has brought out good performances from Porter’s team, according to the coach himself.
“I think we’ve played well there. We’ve had trouble scoring at times, but we’ve kept the games tight,” Porter said. “I think we’ve actually had the better of the play in recent games there, but they’ve had a few guys pull off a play late.”
It’s also worth noting that although the Timbers have not found any regular-season success at CenturyLink Field, they did score a 2-1 win there as part of a 5-3 series victory in the 2013 Western Conference Semifinals.
When the teams meet again on Sunday the return of Diego Chara from suspension, the possible addition of veteran central defender Steven Taylor, and a second consecutive game back from injury for Liam Ridgewell will give the Timbers the boost they need to make a bit of history.
“It seems like we get our first [win] in dramatic fashion, so l’m hoping that it’s against a rival on the road,” Porter said.
Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury said the formula for success at Seattle is no different than for other road games: “Be solid defensively and then when you get your chances, you’ve got to finish them and make the most of them.”
It is not as if Portland have been lost on the road under Porter, either. Over the previous two seasons, the Timbers had a MLS-best 14 road wins. In addition to their playoff win in 2013, the Timbers in 2015 became the first team to defeat the Sounders at the Starfire Sports facility in US Open Cup play.
Most recently, their last road win earned the club the MLS Cup title.
But those success stories won’t get much attention this week. Instead, Porter plans to emphasize the good work the Timbers have done this season away from home.
“I think the best thing I can do is remind them that six other times, we didn’t lose and were right there,” Porter said.