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Revolution vs. Timbers: storylines to follow in week five

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Can the Revs beat Portland for the first time since 2012? That, and four other headlines to track.

MLS: Portland Timbers at New England Revolution Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Revolution stole all the headlines following last week’s 5-2 trouncing of Minnesota United. Juan Agudelo earned MLS Player of the Week honors. And five Revolution players—plus Head Coach Jay Heaps—earned a spot on mlssoccer.com’s Team of the Week.

But on Sunday, when the Revolution visit the Portland Timbers, those headlines won't come so easy. Caleb Porter’s side has looked dangerous in the early stages of 2017, winning three straight matches before finally dropping a result last weekend. Can the Revs hang tough?

Ahead of the match, here are five storylines to keep an eye on:

1. Can the Revolution impress in the first of two nationally-televised matches?

Rarely given a chance to perform on the national stage, the Revolution will square off with the Timbers on ESPN2, the first of just two matches the Revs will play on national TV this season. The second match, against the Philadelphia Union on July 2, will air on FOX Sports 1.

Though many players say the national spotlight makes no difference in their performance, the stakes always rise during prime time matches. Can the Revs stick with the Timbers in front of a national audience?

2. Can the Revolution attack keep pace on the road?

Against Minnesota United last week, the Revolution attack finally got into a rhythm, scoring five goals against a shorthanded Loons defense. With Juan Agudelo playing in a forward position and Lee Nguyen quarterbacking the attack from the number 10 role, the offense found acres of space to work in the attacking third.

While the Timbers don’t sport the toughest defense in soccer, they won’t provide that much freedom, forcing the Revolution to work in tighter spaces on Sunday. Can the Revs attack stay hot 3,000 miles from home?

3. When will Kei Kamara crack the top 10 MLS scoring list?

The Sierra Leonean forward currently ranks 12th all-time with 87 MLS goals to his name. A goal on Sunday would put him in a two-way tie with journeyman Roy Lassiter, who played seven seasons in MLS from 1996-2002. If Kamara records two tallies on Sunday, he will move into a tie with former LA Galaxy forward Carlos Ruiz for 10th all time.

For those counting, Kamara needs 14 goals to tie Revolution legend Taylor Twellman, who scored 101 career tallies (8th overall). Can Kamara inch closer in Portland?

4. Which USMNT forward will make a bigger impact?

In February, Agudelo and Timbers forward Darlington Nagbe suited up for the United States during a friendly against Iceland. Last week, Nagbe started for the U.S. during a crucial World Cup qualifier; Agudelo, who didn’t receive a March roster invite, trained in Foxboro instead.

Both players have gotten off to a strong start in MLS, with Agudelo scoring a pair of goals (both vs. Minnesota United) and Nagbe contributing a pair of assists. Will one of the two U.S. forwards serve as a difference maker on Sunday?

5. Will the two clubs continue their streak of even play?

Though the Revs and Timbers only go toe-to-toe once a season, the matchup has typically yielded a close result, with three of the past four outings ending in a draw. In the last meeting between the two teams, Revolution rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen forced an own goal to level the match in the 89th minute. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

Will one side take a full three points? If the Revolution take care of business, the result will snap a four-year winless streak against the Timbers.