When the Houston Dynamo visit the Portland Timbers on Saturday night (9:30 p.m., KUBE 57), it will be a contest between two of the hottest sides in the early part of the 2017 Major League Soccer season. It will also be the first away match of the year for the Dynamo.
The Timbers and the Dynamo are two of three teams in the Western Conference with a perfect 2-0-0 record through the first two weeks of the season, and know that three points won't be easy to come by.
“In regards of getting a result, you know, in this league is always tough to play away,” Dynamo midfielder Ricardo Clark said. “It’s a pretty tough environment in Portland, but I think we are confident. We can get a result and a win would be even better.”
Playing in the Rose City has been a tough task for the Dynamo historically, with a 1-3-1 record at Providence Park. The club’s only win came in 2011, the Timbers’ first season in MLS after joining as an expansion team.
The noise generated by the Timbers Army will make it a tough place to communicate and the artificial surface is always a talking point when traveling to the Pacific Northwest, but forward Alberth Elis says the team is ready for all of the challenges of playing in Portland.
“We’ve all played on an artificial surface. It’s nothing new for anyone,” said Elis. “We know it will be a bit more difficult but that’s no excuse. We will go and try to impose our brand of soccer, what we’ve been doing, and we will try to demonstrate what we’re made of.”
Elis scored his first MLS goal last week in the win over Columbus Crew SC, and his attacking partners Romell Quioto and Erick Torres have already notched two goals apiece. The three-headed attack has been the talk of the league, but the team knows it will also have to be strong on the defensive end to hold off the likes of Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi to walk away with points.
“[We have] to make sure the defense is on the same page, especially with the midfielders,” Clark said. “Our job is to help [the forwards] put their energy into going forward. Thankfully, it’s been working for the last two games. You know, credit to keeping the score low for the other team and just being on the same page making sure we are solid back there.”
As the team looks to translate the success found in their first two matches into Saturday's test on the road, they do so knowing that away wins have been hard to come by in the past few seasons. The same chip on their shoulder coming into the first match of 2017 remains as the team aims for their first 3-0-0 start in club history.
“Well, we are motivated," said Elis. "We have our feet on the ground, acknowledging that we haven’t won anything. We try to work hard all week to be in the best possible shape on Saturday at Portland.”