Playoff Drive Hits Crucial Stage for Timbers

Home matches against Colorado, Los Angeles up next for Portland
by Ray Marcham   |   Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Green Logs – column on Portland Timbers (PTFC) & the Portland, Oregon area soccer scene.

Maybe the biggest thing to come from the Portland Timbers’ draw with Chivas USA on Saturday night was showing how precarious their playoff status is.

The 1-1 draw at the StubHub Center left the Timbers with 43 points in 5th place in the MLS Western Conference. While they are only a point behind Los Angeles for 4th and 2 behind Colorado for 3rd, Portland is also only 3 points ahead of FC Dallas for the last playoff spot in the West.

Dallas was also the only 1 of the 3 teams that the Timbers actually gained on with Saturday’s point. FCD lost at Colorado, while the Galaxy drew at DC United. If the Timbers had won on Saturday, they would have been level on points with the Rapids and ahead of LA.

The playoff situation means that the next 2 matches for Portland are huge. That they are at JELD-WEN Field plays into the Timbers’ favor, but they are also against the 2 clubs immediately above them in the standings. Both are also on national television, which brings distractions on top of the usual preparations.

First is Colorado on Friday night. A win for the Timbers would propel them into 3rd place for the night, and with the Galaxy hosting a red-hot Seattle Sounders side on Saturday, the possibility of staying 3rd after the weekend is a real possibility. But a loss would be a blow to hopes of a home match in the playoffs and would make the following match, a home encounter with Los Angeles on Sept. 29 that will be shown on NBC, even bigger than it already is.

One of the big factors that have the Timbers in this position is the number of draws they have had this season. The Chivas USA draw was the 13th of the season for Portland, the most of any MLS club. If 4 of those draws had been turned into wins, the Timbers would be leading the Supporters’ Shield race with 51 points (adding an extra 2 points for a win).

The past 10 weeks haven’t been kind to the Timbers, either. Portland has gone 3-4-3 since the July 7 loss at Columbus that ended their 15-match unbeaten streak. While the club has been hit hard by national team call-ups and injuries, it has also shown how the reliance on draws during the streak (the Timbers drew 9 of the streak’s 15 matches) may have hurt Portland in the long-haul.

NEXT UP: September 20 – Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids, JELD-WEN Field, Portland, Ore. 10 p.m. EST, NBCSN.

Ray MARCHAM

Nationality:
USA
College:
Washington State
Club Domestic:
Portland Timbers
Club Foreign:
Arsenal
Cascadia native and a fan for as long as he can remember, Ray was brought up on the old NASL. Learned to love MLS. Wanted to play like Clive Charles. Then like Tony Adams. Only dreams, of course.
RAY'S SPONSORS