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Giovanni Savarese is delighted with the commitment shown by his Portland Timbers’ side after they put themselves firmly back into playoff contention with a two successive wins.

Portland sit sixth in the Western Conference after wins over the Seattle Sounders and Houston Dynamo.

They now face a rivalry match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, who have won their last four games and are on a 10-match unbeaten run and sit just a point behind Portland.

“It’s the commitment not only from the defenders,” Savarese said after Portland’s first ever win at Houston.

“It’s from the entire team to make sure we help each other, that we have associations in different areas to make sure we handle what the teams have been throwing at us. We had done a lot of work to make sure all the players understand what they are going to face.

“To be able to get this victory, this is something we have been working toward and tried hard to achieve. We have come up a little short a few times, but today overall it was a good performance from the players.”

Despite Vancouver’s strong recent form, it was not enough to save Marc Dos Santos, who was received of his duties late in August – interim coach Vanni Sartini having won his first two games in charge.

“It’s a game where there’s a lot at stake, the playoffs, the rivalry, there’s a lot at stake,” said Sartini.

“I don’t have to bring the pressure up. We need to focus on the task and to be ready to do our jobs. Hopefully there’ll be a lot of fans in the stadium to bring the pressure and the energy up.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vancouver Whitecaps – Cristian Dajome

Dajome has netted eight MLS goals this year, but his last strike came on August 1, meaning the Colombian is on a run of four games without scoring.

Portland Timbers – Felipe Mora

Mora scored for the seventh time in his last ten matches dating back to July 21 in Portland’s win over Houston on Friday.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Four of the five meetings between Portland and Vancouver have ended 1-0, with both sides winning by that scoreline twice (plus Portland winning, 3-1, in August 2019). There has been just one goal scored in each of the last three meetings between the Whitecaps and Timbers.

– Vancouver’s club-record unbeaten run extended to 10 matches (W5 D5) with a 2-1 win over Austin on Saturday. It was the club’s fourth straight win, equaling the club’s longest MLS winning streak, originally set from March-April 2015.

– The Timbers have recorded consecutive 2-0 road victories after wins in Seattle and Houston. It’s just the fourth time in the club’s MLS history that the Timbers have kept consecutive away clean sheets and the first since July 2016. Portland has never kept clean sheets in three straight away matches.

– Vancouver overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat Austin FC, 2-1, on Saturday, the fourth time this season the Whitecaps have come from behind to win. The only other season in which Vancouver recorded four come-from-behind victories was 2017 (also four).

– Mora is tied with D.C. United’s Ola Kamara and NYCFC’s Valentin Castellanos for most MLS goals since the start of matchday 14.

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