Matt Hedges - FC Dallas - close up - Sept. 15 2018
Kevin Jairaj - USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas’ Matt Hedges: Not worried as much about Timbers as in the past

As FC Dallas and the Portland Timbers prepare to meet this Saturday with playoff positioning on the line (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info), Dallas defender Matt Hedges made it clear that his team wants to dictate the tempo at Providence Park.

“They obviously have great players. [Diego Valeri] is one of the best No. 10s in the league,” Hedges told FCDallas.com on Tuesday. “But I don’t think we’re worried as much about them as we were in the past. We’re going to try to play our gameplan, and go in there and try to get three points. That’s what we need to do to try to win the West.”

FCD climbed on top of the Western Conference this past weekend after a 2-1 win in Vancouver, with Hedges heading home the late winner. Meanwhile, Portland’s second-half comeback fell just short of earning them a result in Minnesota. The Timbers sit fourth in the West, two points ahead of Real Salt Lake and three in front of the Seattle Sounders, who have a game in hand.

It’s been over six months since Dallas and Portland went head to head, a 1-1 draw on March 24 in Frisco. Roland Lamah netted in the 36th minute before Sebastian Blanco brought the visitors level with a left-footed curler early in the second half. The Timbers hung on to earn a point despite going down a man in the 75th minute due to a deliberate handball from Lawrence Olum.

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“It’s kind of starting to be the playoff atmosphere a little but early,” Hedges added, looking ahead to Saturday’s game. “A couple of teams who are fighting for their lives at this point in the season. They’re going to be coming at us for 90 minutes, and we just have to be ready.”