Perkins gets crack at DC United
The Portland Timbers are perfect at home, partly because goalkeeper Troy Perkins is playing well. He seems particularly motivated this week to be facing his former team.
Perkins and midfielder Rodney Wallace will oppose D.C. United for the first time Sunday when the expansion Timbers look for another victory at JELD-WEN Field.
Portland (5-3-2) has won all five matches at home, scoring first in each one. The Timbers have conceded the first goal in every road game, going 0-3-2.
Perkins owns a scoreless streak of 270 minutes at home for Portland. He and Wallace were acquired by the Timbers from D.C. in separate trades in the offseason.
The goalkeeper's tenure in D.C. was difficult, since he was considered one of the scapegoats for the franchise's last-place finish in 2010. It's clear there is still some ill will toward his former team.
"When you have a winning mentality around a team, it's easy to come in every day and do your job instead of doing the same thing over and over again," Perkins told the Timbers' official website. "It was redundant (in D.C.). It was one of those things where it wasn't a good atmosphere or a good environment."
Wallace's words about his time in the nation's capital weren't as harsh.
"This obviously means a lot because it's my old team, but I'm here in Portland now and I think we're ready to go," he said.
D.C. (3-4-3) understands the challenge Sunday in facing two motivated ex-players in one of the league's most difficult venues.
"I didn't want to lose either of those guys," United coach Ben Olsen insisted. "They're great players and they're doing very well for that club."
Portland's last three home wins have all come by 1-0 scores, including last Saturday's victory over Columbus. Eric Brunner scored against his former team in that contest.
It's been exactly a month since D.C. played on the road, where it has been outscored 10-6 in going 1-3-0 this year. United are unbeaten in their last three MLS matches but have not played within the league since a 1-1 draw against Colorado on May 14.
"We've gotta go in with the mentality of 'Let's go in and spoil the party,'" Olsen said. "No one's won there yet and we want to be the first team to do it."
Olsen expects to be without top scorer Charlie Davies, who suffered a hamstring strain against the Rapids. Davies, who has six goals, could be ready for Friday's match against league-best Los Angeles.
The Timbers are the first expansion team to win their first five home matches, but they know that success in Portland isn't guaranteed.
"We have no divine right to win games here at home," coach John Spencer said. "We need to keep having the underdog mentality. When you've got the underdog mentality, you've always got something to prove, you've always got a chip on your shoulder."