The Portland Timbers will attempt to do something Sunday they haven't accomplished in 22 matches dating to July 2015: win without midfielder Diego Chara in the lineup.
Chara is suspended for Sunday's match, which will be the first ever at home in the regular season for FC Cincinnati. Charra received a red card in the Timbers' 4-1 loss at Los Angeles FC last weekend.
FC CIncinnati (0-1-1) opened their expansion season with a 4-1 loss at Seattle but bounced back with a 1-1 draw at Atlanta United FC, the team that defeated the Timbers in the MLS Cup last season.
A boisterous capacity crowd is expected for the match at FC Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium
"It's going to be a good game," FC Cincinnati forward Fanendo Adi, who spent five seasons with the Timbers, told FCCincinnati.com. "Portland are one of the best teams in the past four or five years ... It's a game where we want to show ourselves, impose ourselves on them and try to get our first three points."
Facing a Timbers team without Chara gives FC Cincinnati a better chance at victory.
"It's difficult to lose an important player in the way we did," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "Unfortunately, those sorts of things happen sometimes. Maybe the referee saw that one and didn't see some others on the other side. But that's what we have to play with. Chara is an important player for us, but this is the moment for the other guys to show up."
They'll have to, as the Timbers are 0-13-9 in those past 22 matches without Chara.
"The thing with Diego is that we know what he's going to give us every single game," Timbers defender Larrys Mabiala told The Athletic. "To have him missing a game is difficult because we don't really know what we are going to get from the guy who is going to take his spot. As you say, we have a much better record with him in the team, so we want to break this. I can't wait to see how we respond to that."
The Timbers (0-1-1), who are playing their first 12 matches on the road while their stadium is undergoing renovations, played to a 3-3 tie in their opener at Colorado.
--Field Level Media