Portland Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese believes his side might have to overcome a mental hurdle when they face the Houston Dynamo.
The Timbers’ 2-0 win in Houston last September was its first win at the Dynamo in the club’s MLS history.
Portland head into Saturday’s game on the back of a much-needed road win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, with Houston in fine form. They have lost just one game so far this season and have won three of their last four.
“We are coming from a good victory away from home,” said Savarese in a media conference. “I thought the way we played was very good, we kept the ball, moved it, knew the right areas – we were patient. We created good moments to be able to win the game and had control.
“The Timbers always have very difficult matches in Houston. We have good, competitive matches and last year was the first time we got three points there. I think it has to do with the heat, the field there now is better, the ball moves a lot better.
“The location, the team hasn’t done as well in Texas as other players. If you put that into context, maybe it is something mental. But if we focus, we can bring a good, competitive match to Houston.”
Houston beat the San Jose Earthquakes 4-3 last week, with DP Sebastian Ferreira opening his MLS account with a double.
“Huge, huge. I think Sebas is a big part of this puzzle in Houston and for him to get the brace today was great,” coach Paul Nagamura said. “Felt really happy for him. There is room for improvement for sure, but I think for him to get those first two goals will give him a boost of confidence and hopefully he can just move from there.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Houston Dynamo – Sebastian Ferreira
Ferreira is the third different Dynamo player to score a brace in six games this season. Dynamo players had just four multi-goal performances over the 2020 and 2021 seasons combined, including just one last season (Fafa Picault).
Portland Timbers – Dairon Asprilla
Dairon Asprilla, who netted from the penalty spot against Vancouver on Saturday, has scored three times in eight games against the Dynamo (including playoffs), equalling his most goals against any opponent in MLS.
KEY OPTA FACTS
The Timbers are unbeaten in six straight matches against Houston (W4 D2) dating back to 2019, including winning two of the three meetings last season (D1).
The Dynamo have won consecutive matches for the first time since a three-match winning streak in August-September 2020.
Houston have scored at least three goals in both games after doing so just twice in its previous 53 MLS matches.The Timbers have won only three of their 29 MLS matches in Texas (D11 L15, including playoffs), including a 4-1 loss to Austin on March 19.
Portland’s only regular season win in Texas since the start of the 2015 season was the 2-0 victory at the Dynamo last September.