Timbers-Red Bulls Preview

The Portland Timbers know they need to string together some

solid road performances to gain a postseason berth. The New York

Red Bulls, meanwhile, haven’t fared too well recently regardless of

the venue.

These teams are separated by one point in the race for one of

the final wild-card playoff spots heading into Saturday night’s

matchup at Red Bull Arena.

Portland (10-12-7) has 37 points for the league’s final

wild-card spot, one more than New York (7-7-15) and two more than

D.C. United. The expansion Timbers, who drew 1-1 with San Jose on

Wednesday, play four of their final five matches on the road, where

they are 1-8-4.

“You can say what you will about our record on the road, but I

think this team has matured a lot in the past two months,” defender

Mike Chabala said. “I’m looking at getting a road win and looking

for the guys to rest up quick and turn around and go back out

there.”

Wednesday’s draw stretched Portland’s unbeaten run to five games

(3-0-2). While the Timbers have played well in going undefeated in

their last six at home, they have had problems transferring that

attacking approach to the road.

“It’s not always about style and substance, sometimes you’ve

just got to go and dig deep and try and get something and sneak a

win,” coach John Spencer said. “We’ll approach the game against Red

Bulls this weekend the same way as we approached the game

(Wednesday), try and get three points.”

New York fell to 0-2-3 in its last five home matches after

Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. MLS co-scoring leader

Thierry Henry returned after missing one game due to inflammation

of his Achilles’ tendon, but the Red Bulls never recovered after

conceding three goals in the first 21 minutes.

The poor effort has increased the importance of Portland’s

visit.

“I think everyone is now aware that it’s a must-win, it’s not

enough with a tie or anything,” coach Hans Backe said. “That’s the

consequences and the conclusion when you go out Saturday.”

New York is 1-4-5 in its last 10 matches overall.

“Everyone makes mistakes, it’s part of life,” forward Luke

Rodgers said. “We just seem to make them and get punished for them

straightaway. We just don’t seem to make a mistake and get away

with it.”

These teams played to a 3-3 draw in Portland on June 19, with

New York scoring twice in the final 17 minutes to salvage a point.

That match featured the controversial ejection of Henry after he

struck Adam Moffat on the back of his head.

Moffat is no longer with Portland, and the Timbers are trying to

focus on their own play and not on how desperate the Red Bulls may

be.

“This week is a big one with New York, they’re a good team and

we’re really close together on points,” forward Kenny Cooper said.

“It’s a really big one and I think we’re all aware of that.”

The Red Bulls will be without defender Rafa Marquez, who was

suspended one game by Backe for criticizing teammates after

Wednesday’s loss.