Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The MLS season got off to a terrific start for the Portland Timbers last Sunday, as the club celebrated its 2015 championship and vanquished the Columbus Crew once again by the score of 2-1 on the strength of goals from Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi.

Firmly entrenched as the team to beat in MLS, the Timbers hit the road for the first time this season to face the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium (4 PM on Fox Sports 1), looking to continue an unbeaten run that stretches back to last October and keep the good times rolling.

The History

The Timbers and Earthquakes didn't really cross paths in a meaningful way in 2015. The teams only met twice, and combined for just a single goal in both games. That one goal, though, was plenty memorable โ€” a circus stoppage time winner from Jack Jewsbury at Providence Park in July.

But don't expect such a dearth of fireworks on Sunday. The Timbers are almost unrecognizable from the team they were last summer, while San Jose continues to improve steadily under the capable direction of Dominic Kinnear โ€” the coach who Caleb Porter, coincidentally, won his first MLS match against in 2013 when Kinnear was in charge of the the Houston Dynamo.

Historically, games between these two old NASL foes have been tense. This rivalry isn't what it was at its highpoint in 2013, but there's little love lost between these two teams โ€” as Jordan Stewart clearly demonstrated last season when he elbowed Dairon Asprilla in the throat in Portland.

The Tactics

Caleb Porter currently has the luxury of naming an unchanged starting eleven, which is exactly what he is expected to do on Sunday.

The question for Porter is whether and how he uses his bench. Jack Jewsbury was the only Timbers substitute to appear against Columbus โ€” and that was as a late defensive replacement for Diego Valeri. There was no relief for Asprilla or Lucas Melano, even though the pair appeared to tire late on.

And that was fine on Sunday, but Portland is going to need to go more than 12 or 13 deep as the season progresses. The club brought in Leicester City product Jack Barmby on loan this week to provide another option on the left wing, but he won't be available to face San Jose. Instead, the likes of Ned Grabavoy and Jack McInerney have a point to prove if they see the field this weekend.

The 'Quakes play an old-fashioned 4-4-2, and the forward combination of Chris Wondolowski and Quincy Amerikwa that could provide a stiff test for Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell. San Jose's strength is through the center of the field, and the major opportunities in the game may once again come on the wings.

It will be particularly interesting to watch how possession falls. The Timbers will be eager to sit in and counter, but San Jose is nowhere near Columbus' level of sophistication on the ball.

The Lineup

12 - Kwarasey
2 - Powell
24 - Ridgewell (C)
7 - Borchers
4 - Taylor
21 - Chara
6 - Nagbe
8 - Valeri
11 - Asprilla
26 - Melano
9 - Adi

The Pick

This won't be an easy game, but it seems unwise to pick against the Timbers right now. They win 1-0.