Timbers seek first win in matchup with Orlando City

While Orlando City finally broke into the win column its last time out, the Portland Timbers would like to close a daunting start to the season by claiming three elusive points.

The Lions will try to make it back-to-back victories on Sunday when they meet the Timbers, who wrap up a five-game road trip.

Orlando snapped an 0-4-2 winless streak dating to last season after topping the New York Red Bulls 4-3 on March 31. Dom Dwyer, back from a quad injury, collected his first two goals of 2018 in his season debut and Sacha Kljestan drew an assist against his former club.

Orlando (1-2-1) is tied with the Philadelphia Union for eighth in the Eastern Conference, and Lions coach Jason Kreis stressed the need to be back among the top eight.

“We know that we need a result (against Portland). We need to start going here,” Kreis said. “We need to be able to win matches in a row. We need to get on winning streaks in order to do anything in this league. That’s our intent.”

The Lions won their first two matchups with the Timbers by a combined 6-1 score before being blanked 3-0 last Sept. 24 on the West Coast.

Portland (0-2-2) is on an extended road trip while Providence Park undergoes renovations.

After being outscored 6-1 in the first two matches, the Timbers played to a 1-1 draw against FC Dallas on March 24 and last Saturday’s 2-2 tie with the Chicago Fire.

“I believe these past two games we showed that we’re going to be a really tough team to beat,” Portland coach Giovanni Savarese told the league’s official website.

The Timbers are one of two winless teams in the Western Conference along with the Seattle Sounders, who reached the MLS Cup championship in 2017.

Portland has one of the least-productive offenses in MLS this year with just four goals. Sebastian Blanco has three of them and assisted on the fourth, but he would gladly trade those points for wins.

“I’m very happy with the present, individually and also as a group,” the Argentinean midfielder told the Oregonian. “The only disappointing thing about this is we’re not getting the three points. I’ll be happier when we are able to get those three points.”

Portland is still looking for Diego Valeri to show the form that led him to MVP honors last year. Also an Argentinean midfielder, Valeri has one goal so far after he became the second player in MLS history with at least 20 goals and 10 assists last year.

He registered two goals in the Timbers’ win over the Lions last September.