After a winless five-game start to the 2018 season, the Portland Timbers will finally get to play on their home pitch.
The Timbers (0-3-2), who blew a 2-0 lead in Sunday’s 3-2 loss at Orlando, host Minnesota United on Saturday at Providence Park in Portland, Ore.
Portland squandered multiple second-half opportunities to add to its lead against Orlando.
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“Offensively, we created a lot of chances,” head coach Giovanni Savarese said Tuesday during his weekly press conference. “Defensively, we were solid. And, I think, even at a point in the game, we felt dominant.
“I’ve seen a huge improvement from the guys, and I thought it was a fantastic game (before the goals). It’s unfortunate not to have won that match because the way we played, it was fantastic.”
Surrendering three Orlando City goals in the final 10 minutes came on the heels of an 84th-minute concession in a 2-2 draw with Chicago a week earlier.
But Savarese remained confident.
“I have no doubt that we’re going to improve that as well,” Savarese said. “I know that is something that has been part of the past, but we’re going to continue to work to make sure we minimize that as much as we can. With mentality, with concentration, we are growing in that area.”
Minnesota (2-3-0) arrives in the Pacific Northwest after failing to score in losses to the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United.
The Loons recently added their first-ever Designated Player, Colombian Darwin Quintero.
“He is a quality footballer; that is the thing that you see straight away,” Loons coach Adrian Heath told the (St. Paul, Minn.) Pioneer Press last week. “Even now there is work for us to do and know where to give it to him and where to run off him. Even in the little small-sided stuff, there has been stuff of quality, moments of quality.
“Next week, we will probably start to integrate him more tactically and hopefully get him in a position where he feels as though he’s 100 percent for the Portland game.”
Minnesota coach Adrian Heath is also hoping to get Brazilian midfielder Maximiano on the pitch this week or April 22, when the Loons play at Seattle.
Maximiano, who arrived on a year-long loan from Brazilian club Fluminese, is recovering from an ACL tear he suffered in his right knee 10 months ago.
“It’s been week to week,” Heath said. “We are hopeful that maybe he would be fully integrated the week building up to the Portland game. Now, whether that is going to be, we are probably going to make a decision on that at the end of this week. If it isn’t, it will certainly be the week building up to Seattle game or hopefully (after that) Houston.”