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The Portland Timbers' path to the Cascadia Cup is easier now, thanks to Saturday's scoreless draw between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders. The draw officially clinched a playoff berth for the Seattle Sounders, but aside from that, the Western Conference playoff picture is no clearer.
9/29 result: 4-0 loss vs Salt Lake
A few weeks ago the Timbers were in dead last in the Western Conference, after having been swept for the season by Chivas USA. Since beating Portland for the last time, however, Chivas has gone 0-8-2 and given up 31 goals, scoring just seven, and currently riding a 442-minute scoreless streak. That win at Portland on August 12 might well have been their last win of the season, as it appears at least a couple of Chivas players have given up.
Wednesday prediction: 18% chance of a win at Vancouver
9/30 result: 1-1 draw vs Los Angeles
Poor finishing continues to plague Colorado. But they remain a very tough team to beat at home, and playing against the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday they looked nothing like a team clinging desperately to something other than last place in the conference. But alas their chances for the playoffs are nearly as hopeless as the Timbers'.
Saturday prediction: 22% chance of a win vs San Jose
9/29 result: 3-3 draw at San Jose
Blas Perez is finally back and healthy for FC Dallas, and dang it, he doesn't want the season to end. His brace on Saturday helped Dallas take the lead after giving up an early goal, and his teammates risked life and limb to help get there. Of course, the referees did their thing, let SJ yank down Brek Shea in the box and Steven Lenhart elbow his way through the Dallas defense.
Saturday prediction: 68% chance of a win at Chivas
9/29 result: 0-0 draw vs Seattle
The Whitecaps blew their chance to pull ahead of Dallas and keep their Cascadia Cup hopes alive, but they couldn't get the finish they needed. They will have to hope for a break over the final month to create a safe distance from FC Dallas. To do that, they'll need to figure out away to get their first win since August 11.
Wednesday prediction: 67% chance of a win vs Chivas
9/29 result: 0-0 draw at Vancouver
Speaking of blowing chances, Seattle had some golden opportunities to take control of their Cascadia Cup fate. As it stands now they can't retain the Cup even if they win. It may not matter to them at this point, of course, since the draw was sufficient to clinch their spot in the playoffs, and they still remain within reach of second place with a game in hand on Salt Lake and Los Angeles. They've clearly got bigger fish to fry.
Sunday prediction: 77% chance of a win vs Portland
9/30 result: 1-1 draw at Colorado
After starting the year at the bottom of the conference table, competing for the worst record at times, LA has not only climbed into the playoffs, they are challenging for the number 2 spot in the conference. Their draw against Colorado was only their second in seven matches, a stretch in which they have gone 5-0-2, granted, against some fairly weak competition. The current second place team is their next opponent, whom they will face at home.
Saturday prediction: 46% chance of a win vs Salt Lake
9/29 result: 4-0 win at Chivas
Really? This was the same team that limped to a 2-1 win against Portland, thanks to two well timed dives near the penalty area? Actually, it wasn't the same team -- this one has Alvaro Saborio. It will be interesting to see if this team, which had been looking pretty weak prior to Portland's visit, can stop the surging Galaxy at the Home Depot Center, or at least manage a draw and maintain their second position.
Saturday prediction: 30% chance of a win at Los Angeles
9/29 result: 3-3 draw vs Dallas
The Quakes keep doing their thing, eking out results in stoppage time, dragging players down in the box at both ends. I don't know how the referees are missing some of this stuff. Just watch their latest late game equalizer, as Victor Bernardez, who had earlier in the game nearly broken Zach Loyd's neck, casually knocks him to the ground before Steven Lenhart elbows his defender out of the way and heads the ball into the back of the net.
Good strategy. Let's see if it works in the playoffs.
Saturday prediction: 60% chance of a win at Colorado