for this game

Timbers gunning for more road points at Crew

Jul 22, 2011 - 4:33 PM Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Roy Hodgson has seen a lot during his extended tenure as a club coach, including stints at Inter Milan and Liverpool, and was impressed with the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night.

Hodgson, now coach at England's West Bromwich, admitted after a 3-2 come-from- behind win over that "Portland played very well in the first half."

Eddie Johnson and Peter Lowry scored in the first half as the Timbers built an unexpected two-goal cushion, but in the end "you see that experience and power come through," Portland coach John Spencer said.

Now that Spencer has had the opportunity to test his club against a squad from the English Premier League, he learned just how good his team can play. But it will be up to him to replicate that performance in Major League Soccer.

Portland (6-9-3) visits the Columbus Crew (7-6-7) on Saturday in search of its second road win of the season. The Timbers have fared well at Jeld-Wen Field - where it played West Brom - but have just five points in eight road MLS games.

Crew Stadium in Columbus will be another challenge for the Timbers, who traded for Lovel Palmer and Mike Chabala from the Houston Dynamo on Thursday. The duo can play in defense or midfield.

"We acquired two experienced MLS players," Spencer said. "[They] give us a great deal of versatility both on the backline and in the midfield."

With those players added to the mix, Portland will try to build on its play on Wednesday night. Spencer even said after the match against West Bromwich that his club was better for long stretches.

"I thought in the first half we were, by far, the better team on the field," Spencer said.

Portland won its first road game of the season in its last MLS fixture on July 16 against the Chicago Fire, and a second straight win against an Eastern team would be a boost for Spencer's club.

"I feel good. I think we took a lot of confidence from the game last week. Now can we go and take another step forward," Spencer said, "and put in another positive performance against Columbus?"

Columbus has also earned most of its points this season at home, posting five wins and four draws in 10 home games so far. So, despite a 1-0 loss at the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday, expect the Crew to be tough to beat this weekend.

The Crew, led by goalie Williams Hesmer and defender Chad Marshall - who have played every minute of every match this season - impressed L.A. manager Bruce Arena earlier this week.

"Columbus defended well, got out on the break pretty well, and were dangerous right until the end of the game," Arena said.

Although Columbus has just seven more points than Portland, it could move into a tie atop the Eastern Conference with a win if Red Bull New York loses at FC Dallas. Portland is 21 points off the pace in the Western Conference.