PORTLAND, Ore. – If there were effects lingering from Saturday night’s 2-2 draw, it was hard to tell on Tuesday, when the Portland Timbers returned to full training at Providence Park. With their next game two days away, the team had settled back into its normal rhythm. Any lingering awe from their strange, weekend meeting with the Colorado Rapids – or disappointment at dropping points at home – had been overcome by the summer’s normal routine, that of dealing with a quick turnaround ahead of their next opponent.
“Of course, we would have wanted to have three points against Colorado, here. That would have been good for us,” head coach Giovanni Savarese told local media this week. “But I think the important part is to take (things) one game at a time, to be calm, to see game-by-game what we are doing instead of just looking ahead – looking where we are at, right now.”
Where the Timbers are at, right now, is a relatively healthy position, even after the setback of Saturday’s draw. The team always knew opening the season with 12 games on the road would leave them in a hole, but as of now, that hole is only four points deep – the distance between the team and the playoff line. There are only two more road games on their MLS schedule. Combine that with the (at least) two games they have in hand on every team in the West’s top seven, and the Timbers find themselves in a good spot.
The extent to which good spots matter 18 games into a 34-match season may not matter much, though. Clearly, being ahead of the pack like Los Angeles FC matters. Every team would love to be there, just as you’d hate to be dealing with the climb teams like FC Cincinnati and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, currently nine points below their playoff lines, will have over the rest of their seasons. For teams in between, though, a “good spot” is little more than a Monday morning screenshot.
The more important thing, now, is that the Timbers take advantage of the opportunities they’ll have. That means 14 of their last 16 at home. That means making the most of games like Thursday’s against Orlando City SC (7pm PT, TICKETS, ESPN).
Here is this week’s KeyBank Scouting Report – three areas of focus ahead of this week’s kickoff at Providence Park:
The first meeting since …
This seems so long ago, but the moment I jog your memory, you’re going to get mad: the image of, last year, Orlando’s Dom Dwyer running straight into then-Timbers defender Alvas Powell in an attempt to draw a late penalty. Orlando had already fought back from two goals down to make it 2-2 in the match’s final minutes when Dwyer decided to engage some of the game’s famed dark arts. He forced a collision, exaggerated fall and, to his credit, got a penalty call.