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Even though the early results haven't been encouraging, Portland Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese insists his club is going to come out of this stretch and put together a winning season.
Savarese has good reason to remain confident with much of the 2018 Western Conference championship roster on his side. However, recent history isn't such a comfort for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Desperately seeking their first victory of the season, the struggling conference foes meet Saturday night at Avaya Stadium.
Savarese isn't panicking despite the Timbers' third straight loss, 2-1 at the Galaxy on Sunday. After all, Portland (0-3-1) opened 0-3-2 last season before putting together a 15-match unbeaten streak and an 18-8-8 finish prior to a 2-0 loss at Atlanta in the MLS Cup.
"This team is going to win more games than lose games and I (left Los Angeles) with a sensation that we are just about to win the first match," the second-year coach said. "And the things that are out of our control, maybe they will go different."
One of the main obstacles the Timbers are trying to overcome this season is that they're having to play their first 12 matches away from home while waiting for Providence Park renovation to be completed.
The attack is also sputtering early on. Since scoring three times in a draw at Colorado, Jeremy Ebobisse has Portland's only two goals over the past three matches. Sebastian Blanco has only scored once so far after he had 10 goals last regular season and three in the playoffs.
The Timbers could see more chances against a San Jose defense that has given up a league-high 14 goals - nine in its last two matches.
Though they hoped things would be different under first-year coach Matias Almeyda, the Quakes dropped their fourth straight to open the season on Saturday, 5-0 to visiting Los Angeles FC.
San Jose is in the midst of a 12-match winless streak (0-11-1) dating to last season and has gone just 3-25-9 since March 17, 2018. The Quakes have star power with Chris Wondolowski and Vako, but they've yet to provide a goal. Magnus Eriksson and Cristian Espinoza have the only scores as the Timbers have been outscored 14-2.
Still, Almeyda's plan is to stay the course as he instills his system.
"The magic doesn't exist in soccer and here you repeatedly see mistakes that happened last season," he said. "My decision to come to San Jose was because it's a long-term plan.
"Simply, I am looking for a style of play and even if they were to score 10 goals, I'd have the same mentality because I like a certain style of soccer."
Portland has had the recent advantage in this series, going 8-3-1 since October 2014. San Jose, though, had won three straight at home before Diego Valeri's goal gave the Timbers' 1-0 victory in the most recent meeting at Avaya Stadium on May 5.
Valeri has been a thorn in the Quakes' side, recording three goals and two assists in the past four matchups overall.
Updated April 5, 2019