Timbers Beat: Playoff pairing a game of Guess Who?

The Timbers and their fans know when the next home game will be – Sunday, Sept. 16 in the first round of the 2007 USL-1 Playoffs. They know it will be the second game of a two-match, aggregate goal series. They know it will be played at PGE Park at 5 p.m. etc., etc.
 
But the big question, the one we don’t know the answer to is, who? As in who will be Portland’s opponent. And for that matter, who do the coaches, players and fans want it to be? Who best fits the role of the happy-to-be-there foe that doesn’t match up well with the Timbers? Honestly, there may not be a sub par side among the top 10 squads in the First Division this year, let alone the top eight.
 
If the season ended today (Aug. 30), Portland’s nemesis Vancouver would be the selection. How’s that for a No. 7 seed, the defending USL-1 champs. Don’t want to see the ‘Caps in round one, well the prospect of Puerto Rico and nearly 8,000 miles of air travel doesn’t seem like an enjoyable option, but the Islanders could very well be the team if Vancouver takes care of business in its final three games – all at home.
 
What if Rochester goes cold in its final two games of the regular season and drops into the seven hole? The Timbers beat the Raging Rhinos once this year, right? Yep, and that is their only win EVER against the upstate New Yorkers.
 
This Saturday’s opponent, Carolina, is an expansion team and occupies the eight spot as of this posting. They could be a nice opening round 1 team to beat up on, no? Oh yeah, that’s right, the RailHawks are a semifinalist and one of only four teams remaining in the U.S. Open Cup tourney that basically starts with every pro, semipro and amateur club in the country.
 
Charleston? Split with them this season. Atlanta? Four points from two games for the Timbers, but a team that will likely finish higher than seventh. What about Miami? Ever heard of Crizam Oliveira-Filo? Maybe his nickname “Zinho” rings a bell. You know, the guy who played for 1994 World Cup Champion Brazil?
 
But the bottom line is Portland is in the playoffs. After a dreadful 2006, the franchise has turned the corner in less than 12 months and put itself in a position to worry about who they will face in the postseason. Not a bad problem to have when you stop to think about it.
 
Andy McNamara
Timbers Broadcast Network