Timbers.vsSanJose102721.CM121

Let’s face facts: The Timbers have just as many draws at home in 2022 as they do wins—four each. With the race for the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs heating up, taking all three points from the remaining seven home games seems… non-optional.

Last Sunday against Vancouver, the Timbers scored on a penalty kick in the 82nd-minute, tying the game and allowing them to salvage a point at home against Vancouver. Elation, green smoke filled the North End, but the draw left new question marks for this weekend.

For instance: Sebastián Blanco is suspended for Saturday’s match after accumulating five yellow cards while striker Felipe Mora, who scored the aforementioned penalty, is still not a lock for the starting lineup.

The Timbers have history on their side this Saturday.

They haven’t lost at home to the Earthquakes since joining MLS in 2011 (11-0-4). But history isn’t always cyclical. At least not reliably so.

The San Jose Earthquakes are unpredictable.

Just about the only predictable thing about San Jose is their unpredictability.

Currently within sniffing distance of the bottom of the Western Conference, the Earthquakes have let in a league-leading 41 goals. But on offense, San Jose plays up-tempo and is capable of scoring in droves. Their 33 goals place them alongside Portland near the top of the conference.

Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese is aware of the threat the visitors bring, too.

“This game against San Jose is going to require high energy,” Savarese said after training on Thursday. “We know that they are a team constantly in transition, so we have to make sure we prepare for that.”

Adding to the potential bedlam, Savarese himself is one yellow card away from a suspension after receiving his second of the season last Sunday against Vancouver.

“I have to extra behave now,” Savarese said, smiling. “I have to stay disciplined to make sure I stay on the field for the entire season.”

The Timbers’ playoff hopes are on the line.

Portland currently sits in 8th place in the Western Conference with 27 points, one spot out of the postseason. But only four points separate the Timbers from 4th place. No one in that middle pack is sitting comfortably.

The Timbers earned 12 of their last 18 possible points. A decent haul. But they can’t afford to drop points at home like it did against Vancouver on Jul. 17.

Come Decision Day on Oct. 9, it’s these matches at home that the team will look back on with pride… or regret.

Jeremy Ebobisse returns to Portland, and he’s on a hot streak.

For the second time since his trade to San Jose in Aug. 2021, Jeremy Ebobisse—or Jebo as he’s affectionately called—returns to Providence Park.

The departed fan favorite has been winning over the NorCal supporters, too, emerging as one of the team’s brightest spots during a difficult season. His 11 goals put him in a three-way tie for third place in the Golden Boot race, the award given to the league’s top goal scorer at the end of the season. (It’s a tight race this year. As of today, Ebobisse only needs 2 more goals to catch up to the current leader, Valentin “Taty” Castellanos of New York City FC.)

Timbers.vsSanJose102721.CM257
Larrys Mabiala chats with Jeremy Ebobisse postgame on Oct. 27, 2021

“There’s always a little extra motivation every time you go back to a place you care about,” Savarese warned. “I’m sure that [Ebobisse] will feel that way because he was here for many years.

He is definitely going to have a special feeling coming into Portland.”

Don’t count the Timbers out.

While the red-hot Ebobisse no longer wears green and gold, the Timbers still have plenty of firepower of their own. Jaroslaw Niezgoda leads the club with seven goals, Santiago Moreno has scored three goals in his last four matches and Dairon Asprilla is rediscovering his form.

Onward, Rose City.