Portland Timbers

Timbers season just ran dry

Those last-minute goals were a soul-wrenching, playoff killer
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

The Portland Timbers had a pretty good run in 2020, for the crazy year it was. 

But, the MLS Cup playoffs ended in dramatically crummy style - a shootout loss.

It was just a minute away from a win, or even a couple inches in terms of how a ball rebounds of a post.

They worked out in favor of a scrappy FC Dallas team on a chilly, damp Sunday night.

Portland still ended up having won the mid-year MLS Challenge Cup and finished third in the Western Conference, good enough for a spot in the North America Champions League in 2021.


MLS sets Timbers home playoff date

Potland will host Dallas in two weekends, Nov. 22
Staff Report

With one trophy already in hand, the Portland Timbers will begin their search for a second Nov. 22, with a home match in the first round of the MLS Western Conference playoffs.

Portland will play host to FC Dallas at 7 p.m., at Providence Park. The team has not announced any plans to allow spectators within the stadium.

The two teams did not meet during the abbreviated regular season nor the MLS is Back Cup that played out in July and August in Orlando, Fla.

Portland won the summer tournament, and will be looking to return to the Cup finale for the third time, and second since winning in 2015. Portland fell to Atlanta, in Atlanta, in 2018.

Dallas has played for the MLS Cup once, but never won.

The Timbers enter having lost just once in their past six games, going 2-1-3 with two of the draws being against LAFC.

Diego Valeri and Jeremy Ebobisse both tallied nine goals for Portland during the 25-match season. Felipe Mora had seven goals and Yimmi Chara added four with eight assists. Valeri led the team with nine assists.


Timbers closeout with draw

Late goal pulls PDX 1-1 with LAFC, playoff next
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

And, now finally, the MLS Cup is on the line.

After the tournament-in-a-bubble, and collapsed regular season, the Portland Timbers can finally focus on the annual battle for the league championship, and they'll be part of it as the third seed in the Western Conference.

Portland closed out is regular season with a 1-1 draw in Los Angeles, netting the tying goal in the 90th minute to finish with an 11-6-6 record and 39 points. The point total tied with Sporting Kansas City and Seattle, but those teams had played fewer matches and had a higher point-per-game average, and were seeded first and second, respectively, for the upcoming playoffs that begin Nov. 20.

Jorge Villafana headed home Portland's goal to cap of the regular season, scoring for the first time in five years. The Timbers scored 46 goals in their 23 matches, topped only by LAFC with 47 goal in 22 matches. The two teams tied 1-1 just a month ago.

Portland will play at least one playoff game at Providence Park, starting with Dallas, which finished sixth.

The other Western match-ups are:

Sporting Kansas City vs. San Jose

Seattle vs. LAFC

Minnesota vs. Colorado





Timbers head for Decision Day with LA in mind

After 1-0 loss to Colorado, LAFC might be first-round opponent
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

After a 1-0 loss at home to Colorado Wednesday, the Portland Timbers had little to gain from looking back at an uninspired effort at Providence Park, but everything to look forward to with Sunday's match at LAFC as it might very well be the opponent in the quarterfinals of the Major League Soccer playoffs. P

ortland dropped to second behind Sporting Kansas City in the Western Conference standing with the loss, and are just a whisper ahead of Seattle, with each having one match remaining.

Los Angeles sits in sixth.

There certainly are plenty of pathways LAFC could remain there and the Timbers could wind up third, which would put the two teams up against one another in the first round. P

ortland plays at LAFC Sunday at 3:30 p.m.

The eight playoff teams in the Western Conference have played their way into the expanded playoffs, with four being left out.

Chara goal boosts Timbers to first

Portland tops Vancouver 1-0 entering final week
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - Yimmi Chara followed a historic game of passing off goals to scoring one Sunday, leading the Portland Timbers to a 1-0 victory over Vancouver and to the top spot in the Western Conference with just two matches remaining in the regular season.

Chara, who tied an MLS record with four assists in a 5-2 win Wednesday over the LA Galaxy, smashed home a cross from Jorge Villafana in the 61st minute and the Timbers survived a late surge from the Whitecaps to move atop the Western Conference just ahead of Sporting Kansas City.

Portland improved to 11-5-5 for 38 points, and to 1.81 points per match which the league moved to determine which eight teams would qualify for the playoffs as every team will not finish with the same number of matches due to COVID-19 issues causing postponements. Kansas City sits at 1.80 and 36 points, but having played 20 matches - one less than Portland.

The Seattle Sounders sit in third with 35 points and 1.75 per match, but also with 20 matches.

Portland plays host to Colorado Wednesday, then plays at LAFC Sunday, when the regular season will wind down.

Vancouver entered Sunday's match having scored just 24 goals in 21 matches, and averaging a league low eight shots per match. The defensive nature of the match kept Portland from many scoring chances until the hour mark when a build-up on the right side switched to the left and Villafana scorched a cross from the end line to Chara, who powered home a shot for his fourth goal of the season. Villafana's assist was his fifth of the year.

The Whitecaps finished with a 12-11 edge in shots, but only two of them needed a save from Portland's Steve Clark, and he earned his fifth shutout of the season and second over Vancouver.




Timbers rebound in big way

Portland overwhelms LA Galaxy 5-2 to end skid
Staff Report

The Portland Timbers washed away two weeks of struggles in just 30 minutes Wednesday night, scoring three times on the way to a 5-2 win over the LA Galaxy at Providence Park that secured a playoff spot.

Jaroslaw Niezgoda scored in the sixth and 19th minute and Diego Valeri sent home a penalty kick in the 30th minute for a 3-0 lead that helped the cause of erasing the memory of two consecutive late-game goals that turned wins into draws tucked behind a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake.

Portland improved to 10-5-5 for 35 points in the Western Conference standings, tied for second with Seattle with three games left in the regular season.

The scoring outburst was in line with what the team did at the start of the month, destroying the Galaxy 6-3 on the road directly before a 3-0 win over San Jose. It moved the Timbers to the top of the league in scoring, tied a 44 with LAFC.

Portland's 1-all tie with LAFC, Oct. 18, followed by a 1-all draw with Seattle Thursday both came about from opponent goals in extra time at the close of the match. 

Eryk Williamson and Andy Polo added second-half goals for the Timbers.

Cristian Pavon scored both goals for the Galaxy, which remained at the bottom of the West at 5-11-3, 18 points. The team is likely to miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.

The Timbers return to action at home Sunday against Vancouver at 7 p.m.



Timbers don't win/lose again

Portland gives up extra-time goal, settles for 1-1 draw with Seattle
Staff Report

It happened again.

For the third time this season, and second in five days, the Portland Timbers gave up a goal in extra-time and settled for a 1-1 draw, this time with rival Seattle at CenturyLink Field Thursday.

The Timbers got a goal in the 10th minute from Andres Flores, and it held up for more than 80 minutes before Will Bruin scored in the 93rd minute to cause the draw between the teams atop the Western Conference standings. Bruin's shot was the only one on goal for the Sounders who outshot the visitors 15-8. Seattle held an 8-3 edge in corner kicks as well.

Portland moved to 9-5-5 overall with 32 points, and remained tied with the Sounders. But, they missed out on moving three points ahead of their rivals due to the late goal.

LAFC managed a 1-1 draw with the Timbers Sunday with a goal in the 93rd minute at Providence Park, where the team settled for a 4-4 draw with Real Salt Lake, Aug. 29, when the visitors scored in extra time as well.

Portland has nearly a week off before facing the LA Galaxy Wednesday at home.



Timbers keep rolling with 3-0 win

Portland overcomes weather and San Jose at Providence Park
Staff Report

The season just keeps getting brighter for the Portland Timbers, whether the weather cooperates or not.

Behind a brace from Jaroslaw Niezgoda and a stellar performance from its defense, the Timbers beat visiting San Jose 3-0 Sunday for their fifth-straight win in MLS play.

Portland stayed even with Seattle atop the Western Conference standings through 16 matches, and produced a shutout for the third time in four matches.

Following a 1-1 draw with the Earthquakes on Sept. 16, the Timbers are 6-1-1 in their last eight matchs, and have outscored their opponents 21-10 - with four of those opponents' goals in a 4-2 loss at LAFC, Sept. 13.

Portland returns to action Wednesday at Real Salt Lake, which is nursing a three-match losing streak.

Felipe Mora's goal in the 86th minute off a brilliant cross from Diego Chara gave him seven goals for the season, matching both Diego Valeri and Jeremy Ebobisse for the team lead. Portland is the lone team in the league with three players having scored seven goals this year. Niezgoda improved his total to five goals.



Timbers' offense rolls over LA

Portland thumps Galaxy 6-3
Staff Report

The Timbers defense finally let up in a regular season game Wednesday, but no one was thinking about the defense after a stellar offensive performance on the road.

With Felipe Mora and Jeremy Ebobisse both scoring twice, Portland thrashed the LA Galaxy 6-3 to remain in second place in the MLS Western Conference standings.

The win was the second-consecutive six-goal output against a California team, following a 6-1 win at San Jose, Sept. 19. Portland had its streak of two shutouts snapped and hadn't given up more than one goal in the past four matches, but the offense was the story vs. the Galaxy, which beat the Timbers 3-2 in Portland Sept. 2.

Portland, 24 points, is 4-0-1 in its past five matches and kept pace with Seattle, which remains in first with 27 pooints. Those teams meet in Seattle, Oct. 22.

Diego Valeri and Larrys Mabiala also scored Wednesday.

Portland plays host to San Jose, which sits in last place in the West, Sunday.

Real Salt Lake, third in the West with 26 points, plays host to Portland Wednesday.



COVID-19 finally strikes Timbers schedule

Saturday's match with Colorado gets postponed due to Rapids outbreak
Staff Report

The MLS game between the Colorado Rapids and the Portland Timbers has been postponed after the Rapids confirmed two more players and a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

"Major League Soccer today announced that the match between the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers, scheduled for Saturday at Providence Park, has been postponed after two additional Colorado Rapids players and one additional staff member have confirmed cases of COVID-19," a league statement said.

"For the health and safety of all players and staff, Major League Soccer postponed the match until Nov. 4 at 10 p.m. ET.

"Following the first confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 on Sept. 24, the Colorado Rapids closed their training facility and have not trained since. All players and staff with confirmed cases of COVID-19 have entered self-isolation and the players and staff that have continued to receive negative results have remained in self-quarantine while following MLS health and safety protocols."

The Rapids suspended training late last week when a first round of positive tests came through that included one player and three staff, and placed them in self-isolation. MLS then took the step of postponing the Rapids match on Sunday. A source added that the Rapids had hoped to return to training by Friday.

The postponement on Saturday's Colorado-Portland match is the second since MLS teams began playing games in home markets following the MLS is Back Tournament, which concluded on Aug. 11. At that tournament, which was held inside a bubble in Orlando, both FC Dallas and Nashville SC were forced to pull out due to a cluster of confirmed positive tests.

Since then, there had been less than a handful of confirmed positive tests. The Chicago Fire announced on Aug. 21 that one of its players had a confirmed positive test. More recently, FC Cincinnati said on Saturday that one of its players had a confirmed positive test.


Finally, the Portland Timbers put their offense and defense together at the same time - and historic fashion.

Despite having just 38 percent of possessions Saturday night, the Timbers scored a franchise record six goals and thwarted host San Jose time and again on the way to a 6-1 win in MLS action.

Diego Valeri scored twice and had an assist as the team topped its previous high late in the match.

Portland's win moved it into a tie for fourth in the Western Conference standings with two matches remaining, both at home.

"It was a wonderful match, regardless of the score," Portland coach Gio Savarese told media via virtual contact.

Portland improved to 5-4-3 for 18 points, while San Jose fell to 2-5-5, 11 points. The Earthquakes, who trailed just 2-1 at halftime, were 10 days removed from a 7-1 shellacking in Seattle.

In between San Jose's two defensive blowouts, the team scored a pair of draws, including 1-1 against Portland Wednesday. A number of changes in the starting rotation by both teams saw a seesaw match until Valeri broke the tie in the 25th minute with a penatly-kick goal after a handball was called. Moments later, Jeremy Ebobise headed home a long pass from Jorge Villafana to double the lead. 

San Jose answered in the 44th minute with a Carlos Fierro score and put consistent pressure on Timbers goalie Aljaz Ivacic, but he made a number of highlight-reel saves to keep the Earthquakes at bay. Starting his first match for Portland, Ivacic recorded three saves.

Valeri scored again in the 57th minute on an assist from Diego Charra and the route was on after San Jose responded with four substitutions - all offensive-minded players for defensive players. The Timbers got goals from Yimmi Chara, Julio Cascante and Jaroslaw Niezgoa in the remaining time to surpass its previous MLS high of five goals scored against Minnesota to open the 2017 season.

Portland plays host to Seattle Wednesday, and Vancouver Sunday. The Sounders lead the Western Conference with 21 points, while the Whitecaps won for the third time in four matches with a 2-1 decision at Real Salt Lake Saturday and moved into a tie for seventh place, with the top eight teams reaching the playoffs.

The Timbers edged Seattle 2-1 on Sept. 6 in Seattle two weeks after losing 3-0 at home. They have not played Vancouver this season.



Sept. 16, 2020

In the long-term view, the Portland Timbers only have to qualify for the MLS playoffs to be a contender for the 2020 league tournament.

In the short-term view, though, the frustration from recent results leaves plenty of hardcore fans to wonder how the team will be competitive for any playoff results, especially after such a strong performance at the league’s MLS is Back tournament in August.

Portland struggled to a 1-1 draw with host San Jose Wednesday, earning one point in the Western Conference standings to remain tied for fifth with both Los Angeles clubs needing only to finish eighth to reach the playoffs.

The draw, however, came only a week after the Earthquakes lost 7-1 to Seattle, and days after the team failed to score against the LA Galaxy - in a 0-0 draw. San Jose has allowed three or more goals in three of its five games since the league returned to regular-season play. 

Yimmi Chara scored his first goal of the season off a feed from brother Diego to put Portland up 1-0 in the 33rd minute, but San Jose tied the match with a score by Vako off a feed from Chris Wondolowski.

San Jose dominated possession (63-37 percent) and shots (19-6), causing goalkeeper Steve Clark to make five assists, including a dazzing one in the final minutes. Most of San Jose’s possessions (75 percent) were spent in the Timbers side of the field.

The draw improved the Timbers to 1-3-2 since its return, but continued a familiar pattern of game-play where they create a lead, but cannot hold it. Portland has scored first in four of its six matches, including Wednesday’s match, but managed a win in just one. Those stats include giving up two goals in extra time in a 4-4 draw with Real Salt Lake two weeks ago.

Portland (15 points) plays at San Jose again Saturday with its final two matches at home against Seattle and Vancouver.

San Jose (12) and Vancouver (11) occupy the bottom two spots in the Western Conference standings.

Houston and RSL are tied for eighth at 14 points, with Colorado at 13.


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