The Portland Timbers have had their struggles on the road, failing to win away from home even once during the 2016 season. That all changed on Tuesday evening, however, as the Timbers went on one of their longest road trips of the year to take on El Salvador's CD Dragon in the CONCACAF Champions League, nabbing a 2-1 win away from the friendly confines of Providence Park.
With these three points, the Timbers are within striking distance of group leaders Saprissa, trailing the Costa Rican outfit by only a single point and now capable of passing them in the standings and advancing out of the group with a win when the two sides face off in the final match of the CCL group stage on October 19.
For the Timbers, getting this win is about more than just potentially advancing out of their group; it is about the team fighting through the adversity that has dogged them for the entirety of the 2016 campaign.
"This is a big win," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter told the press after the match. "Not just to give ourselves a chance in the CONCACAF Champions League in that last game, but I think that we can use this to build on for the rest of the year."
Questions about the Timbers' ability to win on the road have followed the team all season, so to finally have a positive answer to those questions was clearly a relief for the defending 2016 MLS Cup Champions.
"Hopefully that is the monkey off our back," said Porter, "and we can continue to build on that and use that in our upcoming road games. Every game from here on out is going to be important."
With two of Portland’s three remaining league matches to be played away from home and a pack of teams hot on their heels competing for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference, confirmation that they can indeed win on the road will be a big boost to the Timbers.
"We have had a rough year," confided Porter. "We have dealt with a bunch of injuries and managed adversity like I have never seen, but these guys just keep fighting. I am very proud of them."