The Portland Timbers have two games remaining; two games that will determine whether or not they can extend their season into the playoffs.
The Vancouver Whitecaps and Timbers have been battling for the last playoff position for a majority of the season, and it is still difficult to find separation between the two in the standings.
Every point matters for both teams, but for the Timbers it’s a tougher road to the postseason, with games against Real Salt Lake and Dallas left on their schedule. Both teams are in the thick of the playoff race, and will find themselves in the postseason if not for a drastic collapse. Portland does get to play Real Salt Lake at home, where the Timbers have only lost three times all season. This late in the year, however, a draw will not be ideal with Vancouver right next to Portland in the standings.
Their season has hung in the balance for awhile, but never as much as Oct. 8 when the San Jose Earthquakes came to Portland for a game that the Timbers desperately needed three points from. The Earthquakes haven’t exactly been impressive of late, not winning a game since early August heading into their matchup with Portland.
Portland came out aggressively against San Jose, attacking upfield with numerous scoring opportunities. In front of a sellout crowd, the home team looked like a squad that wanted to make the playoffs early, and they continued their pressure until they finally broke free in the 41st minute.
The goal came from midfielder Rodney Wallace, who has been hot lately. Wallace scored a brace in the Timbers last outing, and added another goal to his resume this season when he found himself in the box and slid a left footed shot past San Jose keeper Jon Busch. The Timbers walked into the locker room with Wallace’s goal the only one on the scoreboard.
The second half was scoreless for much less time than the first half, after Rodney Wallace was pulled down in the box on a Portland set piece. Diego Valeri calmly stepped up to take the penalty kick, and netted it on the right side to double the Timbers’ lead. Valeri even put in a third goal in the 73rd minute on a Portland fast break.
If the San Jose game was a preview of how the last two games for the Timbers are going to go, Portland fans should not have much to worry about. The Timbers were in control for the entire 90 minutes, and controlled the Earthquakes on both ends of the field. It showed in all three of Portland’s goals, as well as their shots—they more than doubled San Jose (20–8)—and their shots on target, where they blanked the Earthquakes (10–0).
Next up for the Timbers in their penultimate game of the season is Real Salt Lake, who knocked them out of the playoffs last year. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on Oct. 17. Portland’s final game of the regular season will be on Oct. 25 in Dallas.