Timbers fans can relax a little bit, after on their ninth try, Portland won a game. Fans of the team were starting to ask questions, especially after a season as successful as last year. Eight games without a win is a lot, even this early in the season.
It wasn’t only the losses that were hurting the Timbers, it was also the way they were losing. Portland had a lot of games in their hands, before giving up a late goal or two and settling for a point rather than three. One game specifically comes to mind, when Seattle came into Portland and rid of a two goal deficit in the final eight minutes.
But despite all these problems the Timbers finally put a win together, and this time they were on the opposite side of the late goals. Forward Max Urruti scored in the 94th minute to give the Timbers the win, sending the crowd at Providence Park home excited.
The Urruti game-winning goal came a day after Damian Lillard’s game six winning-shot at the Moda Center, giving Portland one of the best sports weekends of the year. For the Timbers, however, who are early in their season, one win is not going to be enough to get them back into the playoff race in Major League Soccer. Portland is currently five points out of fifth place going into their game against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Wins not ties will lead the Timbers back into the playoff race, where they were so successful last year. To do that, Portland needs to be much more successful at home. Providence Park is arguably one of the best home field advantages in the MLS, but it has seemed far from that this season. Portland has posted a record of four ties at home, previous to their win against D.C. United. Last season the Timbers won 11 games at home, only tying five games at home all year.
Lucky for the Timbers, three of their next five games will be at Providence Park. These upcoming games could be crucial in determining if Portland will have enough to make the playoffs after a horrendous start.
This five-game stretch includes a home game against the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are currently in fifth place. That game will take place on June 1, and while it ’s still early in the season, Portland will need as many points as possible—even more specifically against their Cascadian Cup Rivals.
But if anything can show Portland and their fan base that it’s not too difficult to rise in the standings, it’s the fact that Portland jumped up two spots by simply beating D.C. United a week ago. But if it does take 50-plus points to make the MLS Cup playoffs like it did last season, Portland will have to go on a streak of unbeaten games instead of winless games.
With 25 games left, Portland has more than enough time to get to 50 points. In fact, they have more than enough time to get themselves in a strong position come playoff time. But they lost a lot of points they should have gotten early in the season, and it will be easy to look back at those first eight games when it comes down to crunch time and a single point could make a huge difference.
The Portland Timbers play the Columbus Crew on May 17 at Providence Park, finishing out this three-game homestand. They will not return home until their June 1 game against the Vancouver Whitecaps.