Entering arguably its most crucial three-game stretch of the season, Chivas USA approached Wednesday knowing full well what was at stake.
Another scoreless tie would be unacceptable, especially against a team currently at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
"We knew we had to win this game," midfielder Ben Zemanski said. "It was a huge game for us."
Sitting one spot out of the MLS Cup playoff picture, and playing with a sense of urgency, Chivas scored 16 minutes into its match against Portland, then held on to beat the Timbers, 1-0, in front of 13,827 at the Home Depot Center.
Midfielder Miller Bolanos rebounded a shot by teammate Ryan Smith and quickly booted it past keeper Troy Perkins from about 20 yards out.
Robin Fraser, a former MLS All-Star defender, has built Chivas (6-7-5) into a powerhouse defensive squad during his tenure as coach. Under his guidance, Chivas has been among the league's most effective defensive teams, holding six opponents scoreless this season.
But without an offensive attack to match, Chivas has relied entirely too much on goalkeeper Dan Kennedy and has failed to collect enough points to enter the playoff race.
The club had scored only 11 goals in 17 games before Wednesday.
To remedy that, Kennedy said the top priority against Portland (5-10-4) was to score — early.
Once that was accomplished, Chivas was able to dictate the tempo of the game. Fraser pulled his team back a bit and returned to his trademark defensive strategy as the game wore on.
Now fully immersed in the second half of the season and still trailing the Galaxy — its opponent in two of its next three games — Fraser said the time for Chivas to make a serious playoff push is now.
"I wouldn't say patience is a word that's used in our locker room very much right now," Fraser said. "Urgency is the word."