Road Success Keeping Timbers in Playoff Hunt

Portland has won more in MLS on the road than at home in 2014
by Ray Marcham   |   Friday, July 25, 2014

Green Logs - a column on the Portland Timbers & the Portland soccer scene

After a much needed over Colorado last week, the Portland Timbers head back out on the road for a Sunday match in Montreal.

For this edition of the Timbers, the road has been a pretty good place.

It’s a place that has become a place of increasing success for Portland. The July 13 loss to the Sounders in Seattle was the first defeat for the Timbers away from Providence Park in nearly three months, which is astonishing considering their form at home.

That road unbeaten run included wins at New York, Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake. It also included a draw against the LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center where the Timbers had the lead until an own goal late in the match.

Portland has actually won more MLS matches on the road (3) than at Providence Park (2) in 2014. With the seemingly built-in advantage of the stadium and the Timbers Army, one might think that should be the other way around. But the Timbers have earned 11 points in 9 road matches, a slightly better points-per-game rate (1.22) than at home (1.18 points per game, with 13 points in 11 home matches).

All 11 of those road points have come in the last 6 matches. It started with a 1-1 draw in Houston on April 27 and they didn’t lose again on the road until the Seattle match nearly two weeks ago. So to say that the Timbers might be confident heading to Stade Saputo to play the Impact wouldn’t be an understatement.

With the next two on the road, it will balance out the Timbers schedule between home and away matches (11 each). A third trip to the StubHub Center for 2014 happens in a week, with the Galaxy once again waiting. The last time the two met in Carson was on July 4, and it was maybe the most painful match of the year for Portland fans, with a Rauwshan McKenzie own goal in the 86th minute snatching a draw from the jaws of victory.

The remaining matches on the road have plenty of opportunities to get vital points. After Montréal and Los Angeles comes trips to New England (August 16), Vancouver (August 30), Colorado (September 13), Toronto (September 27), San Jose (October 4) and Dallas in the final game of the regular season (October 25). Each also has its possible pitfalls, as well.

For example, the New England match is the Saturday before the Timbers head to Guyana for their first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match. The possible distraction of a tough trip to the edge of South America could be weighing on the players’ minds. Vancouver could be the match that ends any hope of regaining the Cascadia Cup and playoff positioning likely will be on the line, as well.

Looking at the standings, the last two road matches against Western Conference rivals are the ones where 3 points will likely be required. San Jose can easily catch the Timbers if they win their games in hand, while the Dallas match could end up being for a playoff spot. With both being in October, their importance will be massive.

Of course, the struggles at home for the Timbers have only heightened the importance of their road record. The 2-1 win over Colorado last Friday was just the 2nd time all season that Portland had won an MLS match at Providence Park (they had 1 home win in the US Open Cup, against Orlando City U23s of the USL PDL). The Timbers must start winning game at home to ease up on the pressure of needing points on the road. Of course, if Portland had turned a few of their 7 home draws into wins, the points on the road wouldn’t be as critical.

But that’s where the Timbers find themselves. The lack of success at home has fed a need for wins on the road. Gaining three points in Montréal on Sunday will keep Portland within shouting distance of a playoff spot, no matter what other clubs do. While the Timbers do need significant help in gaining a playoff spot, they can hold up their end of matters by getting the points, and wins, they need on the road.

And, in the past few months, the road has been a good place to be.

NEXT UP: July 27 – Portland Timbers vs. Montréal Impact, Stade Saputo, Montréal, Que. 8:00 p.m. EST, ROOT Sports NW.


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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.