With the pace of the season picking up, Portland Timbers’ Ben Zemanski keeping his eyes on the prize

Zemanski: “I think you have to be sprinting with only 11 games left”

Ben Zemanski, Timbers vs. FCD, 8.17.13

Photo Credit: 
Photo by Steve Dipaola

As the race towards the MLS playoffs enters its final stage, Ben Zemanski insists the Portland Timbers are starting to pick up speed and can emerge as one of the pacesetters.

With 11 games left to play in the regular season, Caleb Porter’s team sit in third place in the Western Conference going into Wednesday night’s clash with Real Salt Lake at JELD-WEN Field.

This is the part of the season when every point really does count and Porter said after last Saturday’s 2-1 victory over FC Dallas that he wants the Timbers to be “sprinting, not running” towards the post-season.

It is a message that has been picked up by the players with the versatile Zemanski, who registered a solid midfield performance in the game at home to Dallas, stating that they are producing the right kind of form at the right time.

“I think you have to be sprinting with only 11 games left and the race being so tight—it’s going to be the team that sprints that gets to the finish line first. There are a lot of good teams in there, but we are picking up the pace now and playing some really good soccer.”

Everything is about translating their consistency on the pitch to wins on the league table. The 25-year-old Zemanski knows that if they can do that, then the Timbers will be in a great position to make the playoffs for the first time.

“The Dallas game was just one game and that is how we are treating it. But we know that we have to repeat the same performance or better against RSL on Wednesday. We’re trying to send a big statement out in every game that we play,” said Zemanski.

“We’re trying not to look at the other teams and just focus on us and do what we need to do every week. I think that kind of consistency is going to put us into the best kind of possible to make a run into the playoffs.”

Gareth Maher is a contributing writer to PortlandTimbers.com. He is a frequent writer about soccer for the Irish Daily Mail in Dublin as well as ESPNFC.com.