The Portland Timbers have already added some hardware to their trophy case this season.
Sunday, they'll begin their bid for some more.
The Timbers, who won the MLS is Back Tournament this summer, will play host to FC Dallas in the opening round of Major League Soccer's Western Conference playoffs.
"For me, it's the best part of the season," said Portland forward Diego Valeri, the league's 2017 MVP who shared the team lead with seven goals this season. "You are a couple steps away from another final, from another trophy and that's very exciting for every single one of us."
The Timbers (11-6-6, 39 points, 1.7 points per game) are seeded third in the West while Dallas (9-6-7, 34 points, 1.55 ppg) is sixth. This will be the first meeting between the teams this season.
Dallas hasn't forgotten its playoff matchup with the Timbers on Halloween night in 2018, when visiting Portland won 2-1 on its way to reaching the MLS Cup final.
"They're a good team and they've knocked us out of the playoffs at our house, so I think we're excited to get the opportunity to go there and kick them out of the playoffs like they've done to us before," Dallas defender Matt Hedges said.
Portland will be without two of its designated players, midfielder Sebastian Blanco and forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda, because of season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injuries. In addition, forward Dairon Asprilla was suspended Saturday by MLS for violent conduct in the regular-season finale against Los Angeles FC.
Still, the Timbers are considered the favorites.
"It seems like everybody's already made up their mind that Portland's going to win this game," Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez said. "They're already looking at who they play next: Is it LAFC or Seattle? ... That's fine. If we're going to be overlooked or that big of an underdog, no problem.
"Let's work the best we can to do something about those opinions. And I know the group is in that mindset ... We're going to embrace that role because it is about the given night, the given day."
--Field Level Media