PORTLAND, Ore. – The Timbers' trip to FC Dallas Stadium last year was one of the low points of their season.
As Portland get set to face FC Dallas on Saturday night (8:30 pm ET, MLS Live), that memory from 2011 is still fresh. The 4-0 loss to FCD on a sweltering evening in late June was one of the most disappointing road performances of the Timbers’ expansion year on their way to a 2-9-6 road record.
“We have pretty much a lot of new players, so I think the game from the last game last year is totally different from this one,” said Timbers midfielder Eric Alexander, who played for FC Dallas before a trade sent him to Portland.
“Obviously, the environment will be totally different,” continued Alexander. “It’s not 120 degrees out or whatever, but we just want to go and do well on the road and prove ourselves on the road. And I think if we do that early in the year, it will translate well later in the year on the road.”
The club’s road woes were a major theme of the 2011 season and one that arguably cost them a spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs in their first year.
After a 3-1 opening day victory over the Philadelphia Union on Monday, the first match away from home provides an opportunity to dispel any doubts that the Timbers can have success outside JELD-WEN Field.
WATCH: Spencer previews trip to Dallas
And it comes against an FC Dallas side missing several key players, including Brek Shea, who was called into US Under-23 camp. David Ferreira and Fabián Castillo are also injury concerns.
“For us, we’re going to have our doubters,” manager John Spencer said. “Can we play away from home? So hopefully this weekend, the guys will be up for it again.
“I keep saying the fans give us a great base to play from [at JELD-WEN],” continued Spencer. “There’s no doubt about it. It gives you an edge. But still, the players on the field have to perform in order for us to win the game. So it’s up the players on the field in Dallas to prove that record right.”
One of the players he will be relying on is Alexander, who manned the left side of midfield against the Union. He arrived in Portland in a trade back on August 2011 and Saturday will mark the first time he will face his former club.
He emerged with Dallas in 2010 and helped the team reach MLS Cup. His performances earned him a USMNT call-up but with diminishing playing time in 2011, FCD shipped him to Portland in exchange for Jeremy Hall.
“It’s really like any other game,” Alexander said. “It’s my former club, but I’m a Timber now. So it’s like any other game, come out with the same intensity and get a result. They’re still my friends. But when you make it personal, that’s when your game changes and you kind of fall off track. So just stay mentally focused and treat it like any other game, and I think we’ll be fine.”