MLS Preview from The Sports Network (ET)
05/16/2014 4:57 PM
05/16/2014 5:06 PM
Columbus (3-4-3) at Portland (1-3-6), 10:30 p.m.
Portland, OR (SportsNetwork.com) - Two clubs in desperate need of a win will square off at Providence Park on Saturday as the Portland Timbers take on the Columbus Crew.
Columbus is without a win in seven league games while Portland has managed just one win on the season, making for a coveted three points up grabs on Saturday.
The Crew most recently fell to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in a 1-0 home loss last weekend, a result that had head coach Gregg Berhalter shouldering the blame.
"The guys are running on fumes. ... The guys gave it everything they had and unfortunately that wasn't enough," said Berhalter. "If I'm critical of anything, it's my team selection, not rotating more guys and getting some fresh legs in there because to me that was clearly the difference. They were just more physical and able to run more than we were."
The Crew have lost three straight games by a combined score of 4-0, a run of results that extends their goalless streak extended to 321 minutes - the fourth-longest in club history. Columbus has not managed to score a goal from open play since earning a point from a 1-1 draw against D.C. United on April 19.
"I think you need a certain explosiveness, dynamic and certain poise in front of the goal to capitalize on your opportunities," Berhalter continued. "I think there are times in the first half when we were in crossing position and it ends up a counter attack for the other team. We're going to look at that and analyze that, but certainly we've got to get better at that aspect of the game around the goal, and we've got to get better."
Portland enters Saturday's contest on a three-game unbeaten run, but it has undoubtedly been a disappointing start to the season for a club that finished atop the Western Conference last term.
The Timbers first victory of the season came in dramatic fashion as Maximiliano Urruti scored a last-gasp winner against D.C. United. Their next match was just as dramatic as Portland conceded a stoppage-time goal to Robbie Keane before Diego Valeri's equalizer at the death saw the club earn a point from a 1-1 draw with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
"The season's not done, but we're running out of time by not getting three points in this type of game," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. " ... We do keep slowly moving up, but we're running out of time and we need to pick it up and change that trend. It's time to change it otherwise we're not going to be the team we want to be at the end of the year."
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