The Portland Timbers are in a tight battle for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, and standing in their way is an improved Chivas USA led by red-hot striker Erick Torres.
That makes their visit to Chivas USA on Saturday night such a tricky proposition. On paper, the Timbers should have no problem dealing with the last-place team in the West, but Chivas USA has shown considerable improvement of late, and a big part of the resurgence has been the red-hot Erick Torres.
The Mexican striker has scored an impressive seven goals in nine matches since joining on loan from Chivas Guadalajara, and his presence in the Chivas USA attack has helped the club go from pushover to tough challenger. Throw in the outstanding form of goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and you can understand how the Goats have suffered just one loss in their past four matches.
The Timbers will be looking to ride the momentum created by last week's 4-0 thrashing of Toronto FC, a victory that signaled the return of captain Will Johnson from injury. The win also came without the services of Jamaican national team players Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Johnson and Alvas Powell, who are all back to face Chivas USA.
The key to posting a win at the StubHub Center on Saturday will be the play of Timbers center back Pa Modou Kah. He will have the task of trying to shut down the elusive and crafty Torres, who has shown a solid ability to find the gaps in opposing defenses. Offensively, Portland will look to get Diego Valeri and Rodney Wallace going against a vulnerable Chivas USA defense that has shown some signs of improvement in recent weeks.