Action from the MLS match between the host Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City on July 31, 2016. (Photo courtesy of the Portland Timbers)
PORTLAND, Oregon -- Portland Timbers head coach Caleb Porter certainly doesn't want a repeat of what transpired two years ago in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League (SCCL).
His team finished level with Honduras’ Olimpia in Group 5, each with a 3W-0D-1L record, but failed to advance due to scoring less head-to-head away goals (2–1).
The Timbers begin their second-ever SCCL campaign on Wednesday with a Group B encounter against 2016 Salvadoran Clausura champion Dragon at Providence Park.
"The biggest thing is that it's going to come down to the last game and it's going to come down to goal differential and away goals," said Porter commented. "So this first game, the priority is to win. We'll need to approach this game the right way. We will put a strong lineup out because we're prioritizing this tournament."
With the SCCL group play being only four games, it's essential to win at home. Portland is 7-2-3 at home and 0-6-5 on the road in MLS play this season.
"It's important to take care of the games at home," goalkeeper Jake Gleeson said. "That's a big part of it. Playing on the road and traveling so far, it's difficult to go away and win games. If we take care of business at home and really focus and put our energy and doing the job away, we should be right."
The Timbers enter game a bit blind. Dragon has played only one game this season and has a tremendous turnover from last season's side. Porter noted that scouting was "difficult" task.
Eleven members of the roster left Dragon in the offseason and 13 new players were added.
"They're just coming off their preseason so their season is just beginning," commented Porter. "We do know their set-up in terms of formation. We don't know a ton about their individuals."
Portland has lost two straight MLS games and is 1-3-2 in its last six MLS matches. Porter hoped the SCCL game will put the team in the right direction.
"The last two results (one-goal losses) didn't go our way, but we know if we win this game, we get off to a good start and we win the league game on the weekend, that we're feeling good and looking good," he finished.