Timbers-Chivas USA Preview
The Portland Timbers have the fewest losses in MLS, but they're hardly a lock to earn one of the Western Conference's five playoff spots.
Still, as they get healthier - and add an outside reinforcement - it's hard not to envision the Timbers playing in the postseason.
Coming off its most lopsided win of the season, Portland looks for its first road victory since May on Saturday night against Chivas USA.
The Timbers went 15 games without a defeat earlier this season, but a 2-4-3 July and August that featured plenty of injury and international absences left them in precarious position heading into the final eight games of their schedule.
Portland (10-5-12) began September with a 4-0 win over Toronto FC last Saturday, scoring three times in the final 10 minutes.
That game marked the return of captain Will Johnson, who scored in the 87th minute after missing the previous four matches. Defender Sal Zizzo made his season debut, and Donovan Ricketts, Alvas Powell and co-leading scorer Ryan Johnson will all be back from international duty Saturday.
Perhaps the biggest boost to the lineup, though, will come from Urruti, the Argentine forward acquired from Toronto on Monday for forward Bright Dike, a first-round draft choice in 2015 and allocation money.
The Timbers are tied for fourth in the West with Colorado, though sixth-place FC Dallas is just two points back.
"We've been humbled a little bit, we've had to fight through some things," coach Caleb Porter told the team's official website. "It's built our character, it's increased our depth and I think it's made us hungrier for this final push."
It's uncertain if Urruti will have his international paperwork sorted out by Saturday, but when he does, he'll team with Ryan Johnson, Jose Valencia and Frederic Piquionne to give Porter some intriguing depth for his 4-3-3 system.
"You have to have multiple options in the striker position, and I like to have different dimensions in those options," Porter said. "If you have four of the same guys, then it doesn't give you much flexibility in the game and what you need.
"We feel like (Urruti) brings a different dimension than what we had, which will complement our depth, give us multiple options."
The Timbers could certainly use an injection of offense on the road. They did get two goals in a loss at Real Salt Lake on Aug. 30, but prior to that had scored just once in their previous five road games.
Portland is 0-4-3 away from home since beating D.C. United on May 25.
The Timbers also have never won at StubHub Center, losing 1-0 to Chivas (6-15-7) each of the past two seasons and also going 0-3-1 there against Los Angeles.
Chivas should head into this match with a bit of confidence. It beat D.C. 1-0 on Sunday for its second straight win at home after a 1-5-3 stretch there.
Erick Torres, the 20-year-old striker who made his MLS debut in mid-July, scored against United for his seventh goal in nine games.
"He's a hard worker and always in the right spot," Chivas defender Carlos Bocanegra told the league's official website. "He's finishing his chances and having a great little season for us."
Chivas won all three meetings last season before falling 3-0 at Portland on May 12.