Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - The Portland Timbers will try to extend their unbeaten run in league play to 16 games when they head to Crew Stadium to face the Columbus Crew on Sunday.
Portland has not lost since its 2-1 home loss to the Montreal Impact on March 9, making the Timbers the only remaining unbeaten road team in MLS this season.
But after such a sublime start to the season, which came to a surprise to many outside of the Timbers camp due to their struggles last term, the club is expecting a much tougher finish to the campaign.
"It's good. It gets even tougher now," Will Johnson the club's official website. "No more flying under the radar, we've made too many statements. People know we're a good team and we're going to get everybody's best shot now. We've got to be ready for it."
For all their plaudits, the Timbers have managed just seven wins from 17 matches this season, but their nine draws have helped the club avoid coming away from matches empty-handed.
"It's funny because there have been a lot of games where we've been unhappy even though we haven't lost," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said. "I think that helps to keep the group grounded and pushing. We don't think we have it figured out. We're not where we want to be at this point. This group understands that it takes 34 games to accomplish what we need to."
The goal Porter speaks of is attaining the MLS Supporters' Shield, something Portland is well-positioned to achieve. The Timbers come into the weekend four points back of MLS-leading Real Salt Lake, though the Rose City club holds two games in hand.
Columbus, meanwhile, has not fared as well this term. The Crew enter the weekend off the back of a heart-breaking 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy at the StubHub Center on Thursday.
Bernardo Anor had put Columbus in front with a header in the 78th minute, but the Crew were denied all three points with Robbie Keane's conversion of two late penalties, the second of which came about from a questionable foul by Anor.
It was the Crew's third straight defeat, leaving the club third from bottom in the Eastern Conference with 20 points, three points shy of a place in the playoff picture.