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Timbers-Impact Preview

By JEFF BARTL

STATS Writer

(AP) -- The Portland Timbers were reeling before knocking off the league's top team last week, restoring some confidence in a squad that hadn't won since its first match.

The Montreal Impact, meanwhile, haven't been thrilled with their recent performances.

Portland looks to build on its first shutout of the season when it visits struggling Montreal on Saturday.

The Timbers (2-4-1) were winless in five straight games - including four consecutive losses - before defeating previously perfect Sporting Kansas City 1-0 last Saturday.

"I think we've got to take a lot of pride in our performance," coach John Spencer told the Timbers' official website. "We've got to go to Montreal next weekend in another difficult game. There are no easy games in this league. I think that everybody here is starting to realize that on the field and off the field."

The Timbers had lost their previous three contests by allowing the deciding goal within the final 10 minutes, but they were able to hold off Kansas City's late surge to earn their first shutout since beating Vancouver 1-0 on Oct. 2 - a span of 10 games.

"We kind of got everybody together and said, 'Hey, it's time that we've got to prove it not only to ourselves but to everyone else that we can close teams out and get a shutout,'" midfielder Jack Jewsbury said. "That was very important for us."

The Timbers hope to continue the momentum in their first meeting with the Impact (1-5-2), who have gotten off to a slow start in their inaugural MLS season.

Montreal took the lead on Bernardo Corradi's goal in the 68th minute against D.C. on April 18, only to allow the tying goal roughly four minutes later in a 1-all draw.

The Impact's lone victory was April 7 against Toronto FC, which has lost each of its six matches and will meet Montreal on Wednesday in the first leg of the semifinals of the Canadian Championship. Coach Jesse Marsch said his team can't look past it's upcoming contest, though.

"Right now, our focus is 100 percent on Portland," Marsch said. "We have to do everything we can to get a result there. Then we'll come out of it, address Wednesday's game. That's the only way you can go through this."

Despite the tough start, Marsch said he's been happy with how the team has responded to the struggles.

"This group has been good about staying focused on all the right things," Marsch said. "The results haven't come our way yet, but there's so many positive signs in the mentality of our group and how we approach each day."

Justin Mapp, who assisted on Corradi's goal in the last match, said the Impact haven't become discouraged and feels victories will come soon.

"We haven't gotten the results we want, but we've been in pretty much every game," Mapp said. "We've just got to keep going. It's all about results."

Montreal is 1-0-1 at home, while Portland is 0-2-1 on the road.

Updated April 27, 2012

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