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Timbers ride wave of momentum into match with Whitecaps

The Portland Timbers will look to extend their unbeaten streak to six matches on Saturday when they host the Vancouver Whitecaps.

In the Timbers’ 2-1 midweek victory over the San Jose Earthquakes, Evander collected a goal and an assist, and forward Jonathan Rodriguez scored the game-winner.

With little time for preparation, Timbers coach Phil Neville hopes to ride the momentum against Vancouver.

“With a short turnaround, you just got to ride the wave. There’s not much training we can do. We’ve got to ride the wave and keep the belief and confidence,” he said. “It’s not system or tactics, it’s about mentality. That’s what we’ve seen over the last six to eight weeks — a team that’s developing a mentality. The systems and tactics take care of themselves.

“We’re developing a mentality of not accepting defeat, making people accountable for what they’re doing, and guys are stepping up.”

Portland (6-7-6, 24 points), seventh in the Western Conference, could leapfrog Vancouver (7-6-4, 25 points) into sixth with a win on Saturday.

Saturday is the second of three meetings between the Cascadia rivals. The Whitecaps won the first meeting 3-2 in Vancouver on March 30. The clubs wrap up the season series north of the border on Sept. 28.

The Whitecaps saw their bid for three consecutive victories go by the boards in a 3-2 loss to New England last weekend.

“We need to play a little better than last Saturday,” Vancouver coach Vanni Sartini said. “That’s the base, I would say. Especially off the ball. Portland is a team that has very good offensive players.

“We need to be much better than last Saturday in our compactness, because if we allow them to play through the lines, it’s going to be really hard.”

Vancouver won its previous visit to Portland 3-2 last August, led by a brace and an assist from Ryan Gauld.

The midfielder has 13 goal contributions (nine goals, four assists) over his last 14 appearances, including seven of those contributions in his last four matches.

–Field Level Media

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