It could easily be supposed that, judging from the Rose’s City devoted, edging-on-the-overzealous fan base, the Portland Timbers are a top-performing MLS team closing the regular season with a definite playoff spot. But alas, it is not so.
Despite a late season uptick, the Timbers’ playoff hopes are confined to a dogfight with the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United for a wildcard slot. The Red Bulls currently hold the position with 40 points and a goal differential of five, with the Timbers and the United right on their heels with 40 points and a goal differential of negative six, and 38 points and a goal differential of zero, respectively. To secure their spot, the Timbers must win all their remaining games, a feat that will be difficult to accomplish when they face number two-ranked Real Salt Lake on the road. Although the Timbers beat Salt Lake in their April match up, the Timbers had the home side advantage, including the raucous, devoted Timbers Army, whose support has contributed to nine Timbers home wins, contrasted with only two wins on the road. If the Timbers do succeed in clinching a wildcard slot, they will still need to participate in a play-in game for an official playoff berth. A strength the Timbers do possess is a deep roster, which prevents them from relying on a single player for goals, and will hopefully allow the young Timbers team to continue their late season uptick and secure a wildcard spot once and for all. If only a team’s playoff berth was based on the support of its fans, the Timbers would surely hold the top playoff spot.