MONTREAL -- Is the bloom off the Rose City?
The Portland Timbers came out of the 2017 gate at a furious pace, racking up a league-high 16 goals in their first six matches and losing just once over that span.
Since then, Portland have stumbled at a lot of turns. Going into this weekend's Cascadia Cup match at archrival Seattle (2:30 pm ET; FOX in US | MLS LIVE in Canada), the Timbers have won just one of their last six (with six goals scored over that span) and are on a four-match winless skid after Saturday's shorthanded 4-1 away loss to the Montreal Impact.
"I know supporters aren’t happy," Timbers coach Caleb Porter said after Saturday's match. "We’re not happy either. But I can tell you this: We are going to get back to work and we are going to keep fighting. We are going to stay positive and do what we always do, stick together, and we will work ourselves through this.”:
Portland's fight to get back into Saturday's match after going down 2-0 late in the first half was a positive, said Porter, whose team pulled one back just before the break on Diego Valeri's header but then got worn down in the second 45.
"We don't like losing, but obviously look at the stats," Porter said. "It's 12-12 in shots, we were down a man from the 17th minute on and (had) 55 percent possession on the road. So you'll see the scoreline -- everybody will see it that didn't watch the game -- and think that we got killed, but what I saw was a game that was a lot closer than that.
"And I saw a lot of fight in my guys, I saw a lot of character in my team, and honestly I thought with the way that they fought that they deserved better. But I'm also not naive enough to think that there aren't things to correct."
That list includes critical giveaways and defensive lapses near the top of the penalty area, where Montreal found their match-icing goals in the second half -- starting with Piatti's strike in the 50th minute, his second goal of the match.
"We're at 2-1, no doubt we're going to come out lively," Porter said. "We were creating chances at the end of the first half and no doubt we would continue to create chances, but that was the backbreaker, and that's an avoidable goal. You can't let Piatti come in on the right foot. But outside of a few individual mistakes and maybe a couple of individual performances I thought there were some positives to the game."
Portland will need more than isolated bright spots on Saturday, though -- especially with critical Western Conference points and regional bragging rights on the line against a side that have seen struggles of their own this season but snapped a three-match losing streak and four-match winless run with Saturday's 1-0 home victory over Real Salt Lake.
"We are going to keep fighting and nothing is going to change," Porter said. "We are not happy giving up points, but we are a lot better team than the score line indicates and we are a lot closer to being the team that we need to be than it feels right now. Best way to make it right is for us to go and get a result in the next game versus our biggest rival.”