The New York Red Bulls lost their lead atop the Eastern Conference after a disappointing loss to an archrival.
Now they must travel across the country for a quick turnaround to face a team that is unbeaten in its last 10 home games.
The Portland Timbers moreover haven't played in 10 days & will look to take advantage of some key absences for the Red Bulls on Sunday.
p>New York (13-8-6) fell 2-1 at New England on Wednesday, as the Revolution moved ahead of the Red Bulls in the East. The physical game featured eight yellow cards.
"It wasn't a satisfactory performance for us, one of our worst of the year," coach Jesse Marsch said. "So frustrating to know that this was a huge game, with first place on the line & to come to a tough place & not be at our best."
Making matters worse is that among the players to draw yellow cards were captain Dax McCarty & Connor Lade, who are now each suspended for this match.
"We've received a deep group here," Marsch said. "We've received a bunch of guys who understand their roles. So it'll be a satisfactory opportunity for some different guys to step on the field & now show what they are about."
Portland (11-9-8) is in a tight race for a playoff spot in the West & hasn't played since a scoreless home draw with Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 9. The club received a few days off before returning to practice.
"I think everybody came back with their batteries recharged & we're just ready to obtain after it for this final stretch," defender Nat Borchers said.
The Timbers are enjoying a 6-0-4 run at home in which they have outscored opponents 14-4. They will have defender Liam Ridgewell & midfielder Diego Chara back from suspension.
Portland's Fanendo Adi remains one goal shy of matching Diego Valeri's team record of 11 set last year. Valeri had an assist in three straight games before the Kansas City match.
New York is 2-1-2 in the all-time series, with both visits to Portland ending in 3-3 draws.
The Red Bulls have the East's best goal differential at plus-15. Bradley Wright-Phillips ranks among the league leaders with 14 goals, including three in his last three games.
"Bradley's been banging them in of late so we've received to try to keep him quiet if we can," Ridgewell said.
Forward Mike Grella has scored in consecutive games for the Red Bulls, who haven't dropped two in a row since a three-game slide May 24-June 5.
New York likely won't face as huge a physical challenge in this contest since Portland has been whistled for a league-low 36 yellow cards.
The Timbers are yielding 1.14 goals per game for one of the league's best defenses. Their offense averages 1.04 – one of the worst.
"We've had a few games where we've given up goals yet winning games is approximately the balance between defending & attacking," coach Caleb Porter said.
Sports & RecreationPortland TimbersNew York Red Bulls