Portland Timbers coach Gio Saverese is preparing for a tough period, as his side get ready for three games in the space of a week, starting with a trip to Houston Dynamo.
Portland, 2-1 winners over Sporting Kansas City at the weekend, face Houston in the Texas heat on Wednesday before another quick turnaround between games against Minnesota United and Austin FC.
Portland trail runaway Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders by nine points, but have won three of their last four games ahead of their clash with Houston.
"We have to prepare for Houston, another difficult game. Tab [Ramos] has given them good ideas, they believe in the direction they are going and in conditions in Houston that are difficult," Saverese said.
"We have to manage the team well because they have to endure another two close games right after, we have to play Minnesota at home and then another game that was moved earlier that I wish didn't happen that way.
"Now we have to deal with three matches in a matter of a week. We will be prepared, the guys are ready for it."
Houston sit seventh in the Western Conference, after they came from behind to draw 1-1 with Los Angeles FC.
It is only two wins from their last five, but centre-back Tim Parker believes the Dynamo are building towards something special.
"The locker room's really good. It's an exciting group to be around," Parker said. "I think that's the biggest part since I've been down here.
"I'm excited to see what we can do as we move forward throughout the year. We have good camaraderie, so when we're on the field, it's something that we're willing to fight for each other for, and I think that's showing [in] some of the results that we're getting."
Houston Dynamo – Maximiliano Urruti
After his equaliser against LAFC, Houston's Maximiliano Urruti has scored in three consecutive matches for this first time since he scored in four consecutive matches for FC Dallas in May 2018.
Portland Timbers – Diego Chara
Veteran Diego Chara returned form injury to make just his fourth appearance of 2021 against Sporting. The combative midfielder attempted four tackles and gained possession a game-high 11 times.
Marvin Loria has scored two goals in his last four matches for the Timbers, including the game-winning goal against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Prior to the last four matches, Loria had scored two goals in his entire MLS career (45 matches in all MLS competitions).
The Dynamo are the third different MLS team that Urruti has scored in three consecutive matches for (FC Dallas and CF Montreal).
In its last match, Portland came back to defeat Sporting Kansas City, 2-1, after conceding first. Heading into that match, the Timbers had lost all four of its matches when giving up the first goal this season. Portland had not won a match after conceding first since September 2019, also against Sporting.
The Dynamo have scored in 10 consecutive matches dating back to last season. Houston is one of two teams (New York City FC) that has scored in every match it has played in this MLS season.
Portland has won three straight over Houston, its first-ever winning streak over the Dynamo, though none of those games were in Houston (2 home, 1 neutral). The Timbers have never won in nine visits to Houston (D5 L4, including playoffs), their most games at an opponent without a victory in club history.
Updated June 22, 2021