This weekend Inter Miami will take their longest road trip of their brief MLS existence to date, jetting across the continent to visit the Portland Timbers for a nationally-televised Sunday afternoon clash at Providence Park (5:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes).

The three points up for grabs are vital for both sides, and the oddsmakers markedly favor the home side, surely due in large part to their 8-3-2 record in the Rose City this season. Listen to Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese, however, and you might get the impression he’d rather make the trip to south Florida instead.

“It's an interesting match,” he told reporters in a Friday media availability. “I watch a lot of games, so I've been watching Miami, even before we were planning to do scouting about them. We know that away from home, they're stronger, they're more organized.”

The stats seem to back up his words. The Herons carry a slighter better winning percentage away from DRV PNK Stadium, where they’ve leaked nine goals in their past two home matches and have lost by margins of three goals or more on four occasions in 2021. And they may encounter Portland in a more vulnerable situation than the Timbers’ roaring-hot 6W-0L-1D run of form over the past month might indicate.

Sebastian Blanco, the creative force that has powered that streak, is a doubt for Sunday after exiting their midweek road win over LAFC with pain in his recently-reconstructed knee, a knock that has subsequently been described as minor compared to the degree of pain it seemed to provoke.

“Seba had to go out of the match in the second half,” said Savarese, “but the important thing was that it was nothing concerning. As I spoke after the game, the doctors evaluated him. He's still a question mark, to see if he can play this weekend or not. We will assess tomorrow [Saturday] a little bit better if he can be part of this game coming up against Miami. So tomorrow is an important day but at least we know that it’s nothing concerning, that definitely he will bounce back right away.”

And even with their well-documented struggles this year, Miami’s roster contains enough elite talent to give pause to almost anyone in the league in a one-off situation.

“If you look at the roster, specifically Miami, they have experienced players that can definitely create problems and even though they haven't gotten some some good results, you know in MLS every game is very tough,” said Savarese. “And we need to be prepared, because this game will be tough as well.”

With Miami seven points below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference standings, his opposite number Phil Neville needs a positive result if the postseason is to remain a realistic proposition for his side. The Herons’ late-summer upturn has fizzled in the face of a three-game losing skid as they continue to struggle for consistency, a watchword in the leadup to this occasion.

This is the two clubs’ inaugural meeting, and with dynamic attacking talents like Gonzalo Higuain and Diego Valeri in the mix, neutral audiences have reasons to hope for an explosive affair on what’s forecast to be a big crowd on a picture-perfect afternoon in the Rose City.

“We need to be ready,” said Savarese, “because this game – also every game that we play, to the end right now – is very important for us.”