U-23s Preview: Portland faces important weekend

Four teams still vying for final playoff spot

Brent Richards U-23s vs. Washington

Photo Credit: 
Miranda Chrislock

The Portland Timbers U-23s enter a must-win point in the season this weekend with a pair of road games as the squad looks to capture the final Premier Development League Northwest Division playoff spot.

Entering the weekend on 18 points (5-5-3 overall), the Timbers U-23s must win their final three games (all on the road) and hope both Victoria and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency stumble down the stretch.

The Timbers U-23s can help their cause starting at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, B.C., as the team faces the Victoria Highlanders, currently sitting in second place in the division with 23 points (7-4-2).

Victoria beat Portland 1-0 in the season’s first game at JELD-WEN Field on May 7 as the Timbers U-23s were forced to play 83 minutes of the match with just 10 men following midfielder Nosa Iyoha’s seventh-minute red card ejection. The Timbers also were without leading goal-scorers Miles Byass and Brent Richards for that contest.

The Highlanders are coming off a 4-0 victory over North Sound on July 9.

Following Saturday’s contest, Portland heads to Redmond, Wash., to face the Washington Crossfire at 5 p.m. on Sunday at Redmond High School.

Washington, which goes up against Abbotsford tonight before facing Portland on Sunday, played the Timbers U-23s to a 3-3 draw on June 25 despite Portland outshooting the Crossfire 19-5.

Mathematically speaking, four teams are still alive for the division’s final playoff spot: Victoria (23 points), Vancouver Whitecaps Residency (21), Portland (18) and Abbotsford (18). All except Abbotsford have three games remaining entering this weekend. The Kitsap Pumas (32 points) have locked up the first seed to the playoffs.