Friday, March 16, 2012
FC Dallas hosts Portland on Saturday night
By ESPN.com wire services
The Portland Timbers getting 2012 off to a strong start at home didn't come as a surprise.
Finding success on the road would be a welcome change.
Portland opens its road schedule Saturday night when it visits FC Dallas for the first time since being handed its heaviest defeat in MLS.
The Timbers (1-0-0) scored three unanswered goals to rally for a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia on Monday, opening the year with a strong effort at a sold-out JELD-WEN Field, where they went 9-5-3 last year as an expansion club.
Success away from their raucous home was fleeting in 2011, as they posted a 2-9-6 record that was a major reason they finished four points out of a playoff spot.
That discrepancy was clear in Portland's two meetings with Dallas (1-0-0), a 3-2 home win April 17 and a 4-0 road loss June 25 that was its most lopsided defeat of the season.
"We've got to play well on the road," coach John Spencer told the team's official website. "I think we're a little bit more mature this year, hopefully, and I'd like to see us go down to Dallas and put on a similar type of performance."
After a stop in Dallas, the Timbers visit New England next Saturday.
Continued production from Kris Boyd may be just what Portland needs to find that road success. The star forward scored the winner against the Union, heading in a cross from Kalif Alhassan in his Timbers debut.
He's expected to be a force up top, having finished his career in his native Scotland as the Premier League's all-time leading scorer with 164 goals with Kilmarnock and Glasgow Rangers.
A newcomer also has Dallas looking to build on an impressive start, as Blas Perez assisted on goals by Zach Loyd and Ricardo Villar in a 2-1 victory over New York on Sunday.
The Costa Rican forward will be relied upon again since Dallas is dealing with the extended absence of star midfielder Brek Shea, who is with the United States Under-23 team as it prepares for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament later this month.
Shea had a goal in each of the two meetings with Portland last season.
Fabian Castillo's status is also unclear after the forward exited in the first half Sunday with a knee injury.
"He got a pretty good hit on the inside of his knee. My first thoughts are a knee contusion or maybe a strained ligament," Hyndman told the team's official website. "He's a very good young player. As he continues to mature, he'll make better decisions."
Dallas made three signings this week, inking forwards Luis Perea and Scott Sealy and defender Alex Lee, a supplemental draft pick out of Maryland.
Perea is expected to have a more prominent role than Sealy -- a journeyman -- and Lee.
The son of former Colombian national team defender Luis Carlos Perea, Perea was most recently with Peru's Universidad San Martin de Porres before the club folded earlier this month.
His most successful spell came in 2010, when he had 22 goals in 36 games for Leon de Huanuco in the Peruvian Primera Division.