The Portland Timbers continue to put their slow start to 2018 farther in their rearview mirror.
Portland (4-3-2) won its fourth straight by defeating archrival Seattle 1-0 on Sunday.
The Timbers, who are 3-0 at Providence Park, will host Los Angeles Football Club on Saturday in Portland.
LAFC (6-2-2) is off to the best start ever for an MLS expansion team and boast a Western Conference-best 4-2 road record this season. Just five teams won more than four road games during the 2017 season.
“I see things that are going in a good direction. I still see things that still need to get better,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley told the Los Angeles Times. “I don’t think we’re a complete team yet. That’s what we work toward.”
In its latest test, LAFC claimed a 2-2 draw with New York City FC.
“This game felt (like) there was more on the line,” Bradley said during the post-match press conference, adding that it was “the best game, the biggest test” of his team’s season so far.
NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira left Los Angeles impressed.
“I think Bob managed to build a really good side and I think they are one of the best teams we’ve faced so far in this league,” he said. “They’ve got the quality, the pace and the individual quality to create danger at any time.”
Portland, which has gone from two points to 14 points in the past four games, was meeting Seattle for the 100th time in Wednesday’s home win.
“These kind of games, you know they’re going to be battles,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said, according to the (Portland) Oregonian. “I’m just proud of how the guys continued to battle, how the guys continued to be disciplined, how they worked so hard through the entire match and how they found a way in the end to get the result we wanted.
“These are derbies. These are clasicos. They’re physical. They are a battle.”
The match was all square until Sebastian Blanco connected late for his fifth goal of the season.
“To get the goal in the last four minutes was amazing for us,” Blanco said.
The Timbers set a franchise record with their ninth straight MLS home win. The streak is second only to San Jose’s 12 straight home wins from August 2001 to July 2002. It was also Portland’s third straight shutout.
“The effort of the collective group — how well they cover each other, how well they are organizing, how hard they’re working to make sure we’re defending well, when someone makes a mistake, someone is right behind helping and I think that’s fantastic,” Savarese said after the match. “I have to give a lot of credit, not only to the defenders, but as well as the offensive players that are working very hard defensively to make things more difficult for teams.”