PORTLAND, OR - JULY 10: Goalkeeper Kasey Keller #18 of the Seattle Sounders dives for a the ball against the Portland Timbers on July 2, 2011 at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
It's been depressing few weeks for Portland Timbers fans, no doubt about it. The recent loss to the LA Galaxy was just the latest of a series of ordeals that have been bringing us all down for quite a while now. But the good thing about soccer is that there are multiple ways to bring about a revival of performance and spirits. While a bottom dwelling team in the NFL, or one of the other big American sports might miss out on the play-offs weeks before they begin and suffer a depression because of it, MLS allows for more than that. Case and point: the Cascadia Cup.
Here's the reality of the situation. Right now, the Timbers are not a championship team. They're already out of winning the U.S. Open Cup and are a very long shot to claim the Supporters Shield. They can still win MLS Cup, as we've seen past under-performing clubs do it before, but you should probably ease up on the hope a bit there. That just leaves one realistic expectation: the Cascadia Cup.
1, 1, 2
There have currently been two total games with regards to the Cascadia Cup: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps. Both of those games were draws leaving the current point standings as such:
Portland Timbers: 1
Seattle Sounders: 1
Vancouver Whitecaps: 2
What this shows is that the field is wide open. No Cascadian team is significantly ahead in the races and the one that is ahead is actually worse for it. Two games and two draws. That means, at most, the Whitecaps can only get a maximum of 12 more points in this tournament out of 18 total.
For the Timbers, however, with the home advantage for both Seattle and Vancouver they're sitting pretty with a single draw and the opportunity to get 15 more points starting with the game on Sunday. Which leads me into a nice segue for reason #2...
Rivalry games are NOT normal games
It's easy to look at the season so far and wallow in a pool of self pity about this weekend's upcoming match. After all, the Timbers are struggling. Naturally, it would be easy to look on paper and think that this is an easy game for Seattle to win. Luckily for us, the paper is usually wrong.
As we saw last year, rivalry games are anything but normal. As a team that's never been known as a high scoring side since joining MLS (first two Jeld-Wen games notwithstanding) that match turned into a high scoring, high action affair with the Timbers ultimately losing 2-3. It was a bummer, but the drive, passion and will was there for the Timbers to score and hopefully it'll be there again this Sunday.
Seattle's not doing as great as you might think...
Yes, they're sitting in fourth in the Western Conference and they've got approximately twice the amount of point as the Timbers. But they're last five games has been a pretty mediocre affair in terms of results with 3 draws and 2 losses. That's actually a worse record than the Portland Timbers over those same five games who recorded at least a single win.
Bottom line, soccer is a game of hot and cold. When your team is hot, you'll rack up the points quickly (as we saw the Timbers do last April), but it can quickly turn cold again if the team doesn't focus. While the Timbers are nowhere near a hot streak, it would seem that Seattle's hot streak is starting to turn more than a little lukewarm.
Do you think the Timbers can still win the Cascadia Cup? Why or why not?
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