Aug. 7 at Rio Tinto, 2-1 RSL: Probably the closest matchup between the lineups we will see tomorrow. Although, we played without Jewsbury, Futty, and WJ for most of the second half.
Aug. 21 at JELD-WEN, 3-3 draw. No WJ, Futty, Jewsbury for Portland, and no Saborio, Rimando, and Schuler for RSL. It's highly unlikely we witness an attacking 3-3 match again, considering that RSL will suit up Rimando in goal.
Aug. 31 at Rio Tinto, 4-2 RSL. Kah, WJ, Jewsbury, Futty, and an injured Valeri missed out on Portland's worst showing of 2013. It didn't help that Zman saw red in the 45 +2'.
Oct. 19 at JELD-WEN, 0-0 draw. RSL dominated the flow of the game, but PTFC had all the chances. Nick Rimando stood on his head to preserve the draw at the House of Pane. Although, an ineffective and hurting Valeri suited up for Portland, and Javier Morales watched from home. With those two playing well, I wouldn't foresee another nil-nil draw.
The biggest thing to take away from the previous matchups is that this game should be different than everything we have seen from when these teams have previously met. But I did the math anyways. At Rio Tinto, RSL have scored an average of 3 goals against Portland in 2013. Although, the probability of Saborio not playing, and the Timbers improved defense should drop that score by at least one. I concluded that if Saborio plays, RSL scores two goals. If he doesn't, RSL can only muster one. On the other side, Portland averages 1.5 goals per game. With Rimando is in goal for RSL, I round down to Portland only scoring one. Therefore my prediction is either 2-1 or 1-1 tomorrow.
In two games at JELD-WEN both teams have average 1.5 goals per game. Once again, I give the benefit of the doubt to the goalkeepers, 1-1 in the return leg.
Unfortunately, my predictions have RSL going through. Although, my heart tells me differently. The Timbers have won three straight for the first time in MLS history, are unbeaten in ten games,and could beat anyone in the league with the show they put on in the first 60 or so minutes on Thursday. In all sports with playoffs, it always seems that the team with the most momentum always advances. It is clear that the Timbers peaked at the right time. In fact, I almost want to thank RSL for handing our butts to us on Aug. 31, because that led us to reeling off ten unbeaten. At the same time, RSL had a shaky finish to the 2013 season, the worst result being a 2-1 home loss to the Quakes. If there is hope, in comes in the form of momentum.
Win or lose this series, I will be cheering on the boys in green for all it's worth.