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Timbers await reinforcements with Dynamo ahead

Jun 25, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA;  Portland Timbers forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda (11) celebrates during the second half after scoring a goal against the Colorado Rapids at Providence Park. The Portland Timbers won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers will try for consecutive home victories Wednesday night when they play host to a Houston Dynamo side coming off their own impressive victory.

The Timbers (4-6-7, 19 points) cruised past the Colorado Rapids 3-0 on Saturday night to move up to 11th place in the Western Conference and within four points of the playoff line.

Encouragingly, two of those goals came from center forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda, who had struggled in replacing the injured Felipe Mora.

Niezgoda now has five goals on the season, and he has shown he is capable of more volume. He had 10 goals over the previous two seasons combined, while making just 10 starts in 30 appearances.

“It was a really good moment for me,” Niezgoda said of Saturday’s performance. “Yeah, that’s my job. Finally, I have five goals this season. I needed it really, because yeah, I didn’t feel confident. I couldn’t feel confidence. Now I hope I (am) gonna feel better every game.”

Mora also is getting healthier after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery before the season, though he has only made one appearance. As for Portland’s playoff hopes, they can point to 2021 when they won 10 of their last 14 regular-season games, then stormed into the MLS Cup final.

Houston (6-7-3, 21 points) has no such recent history under first-year manager Paulo Nagamura. But they are coming off a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire.

Darwin Quintero scored his sixth goal to tie Sebastian Ferreira for the team lead while helping snap a two-match losing run.

Nagamura’s use of the 34-year-old Quintero marks a major difference from how predecessor Tab Ramos used the Colombian, by having him come off the bench by the end of his tenure.

“We try to create a structure in the team that he can play his best soccer and also help the team win games and I don’t think it’s difficult,” Nagamura said. “I think Darwin understands his role with the team. He’s been very, very committed for this club since I arrived here. And as long as he is like that, he’s always going to have a great chance to play.”

–Field Level Media