CARSON, Calif. — Chivas USA have finally reached the the last stop of their long and tiring five-game road trip, and the only thing standing between them and a successful finish is earning a result in one of MLS’ toughest venues.
The Rojiblancos head to the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday (11 pm ET, watch LIVE online) to take on the Portland Timbers in the final match of a month-long road trip that has seen them crisscross the country.
During their trip, Chivas USA have gone a healthy 1-1-2, which has kept them in the thick of the playoff hunt. The period has been an immense test for a club that, using the words of head coach Robin Fraser, is in the midst of a “building process.”
“We’ve battled and competed and showed a lot of character coming back twice against the defending champions last week [a 2-2 tie at Colorado],” said Fraser. “This is a team that is growing and getting better at accepting the responsibility. What we’ve seen over this last stretch of road games is numerous tests of character and we’ve certainly showed that we’re a resilient team.”
Those tests of character that Fraser mentions have been many throughout August. Whether it was the triple-digit temperatures of Frisco, Texas, goalkeeper’s Dan Kennedy’s clutch saves that preserved points in New England and Seattle, or last week’s double comeback against the Rapids, Chivas have continued to pick up points and inch closer to a potential playoff spot.
The final test will be on Wednesday night against the Timbers, who appeared revitalized during the weekend in their Cascadia Cup victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Bolstered by the boisterous atmosphere of JELD-WEN Field, Portland have looked good at home as of late after a midseason drought, upsetting the LA Galaxy 3-0 earlier this month before topping the Whitecaps 2-1.
After stopping Landon Donovan and Eric Hassli, Portland will now turn their attention to limiting Juan Pablo Ángel, who scored a goal in an influential debut for the Goats against Colorado last Saturday.
“They’ve done well at home and are certainly very good at set pieces also,” said Fraser of the Timbers. “The environment that they play in is one of the best in the league. We don’t see that environment every week in MLS, so we have to relish it because anytime that you can play in a building with that much emotion it’s a special feeling.”
Adam Serrano covers Chivas USA for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @adamserrano