The Path to the Playoffs: Who to Root for Today

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs are a month and a half away, so who should the discerning Timbers fan root for in this weekend's games?

If you have been following along with Ryan's playoff predictions (you can find the most recent one here) you know that the Timbers are in control of their own destiny, but a little help along the way would certainly be welcome. To that end, let's take a look at who you should be rooting for in this weekend's games and why.

Vancouver Whitecaps at Montreal Impact

Saturday, 11:00 am, MLS Live

Root For: Draw

Why? It may seem counter-intuitive to root for the Timbers' rivals to pick up a point against an Eastern Conference team here, but a road point against Montreal could give the recently struggling Whitecaps the confidence to be more than a speed bump for Real Salt Lake next week. Plus, a tight supporter's shield race will keep the impact hungry for points when they face off against the Galaxy next month.

Sporting Kansas City at Toronto FC

Saturday, 1:00 pm, MLS Live

Root For: Toronto FC

Why? As with Montreal, it would help the Timbers if the race in the east stays tight. SKC do not have any games against western opposition left in the season, but the lower the points in the east, the more likely it is that a Western Conference team will host the MLS Cup. (As of this year, the host is the team team who finished the season with the most points.) Plus, you kind of have to feel bad for Toronto at this point (or at any point in the last five years, really).

Chicago Fire at Columbus Crew

Saturday, 4:30 pm, MLS Live

Root For: Columbus Crew

Why? The Crew take on Dallas next week and could use a little shot of confidence to keep FCD from sneaking back into playoff contention.

DC United at New England Revolution

Saturday, 4:30 pm, MLS Live

Root For: DC United

Why? Despite their struggles this season, the Revs have a formidable defense and successfully blanked the Timbers at home. Defense wins championships in every sport, so if New England can make their way back into playoff contention, they are not a team that you want to face off against in the final, particularly after they blanked the Timbers in Portland earlier this year.

Chivas USA at Houston Dynamo

Saturday, 5:30 pm, MLS Live

Root For: Chivas USA

Why? The Dynamo do not have any chances to directly influence the playoff race in the west, so we want Chivas, who have already been eliminated from playoff contention, to take as many points from Western Conference opposition as possible (other than the Timbers).

San Jose Earthquakes at Real Salt Lake

Saturday, 6:00 pm, MLS Live

Root For: San Jose Earthquakes

Why? A win for San Jose against RSL keeps the Timbers within a win of taking second place after this weekend. The Earthquakes are six points out of the playoff picture currently and eight points behind the Timbers, so there is little chance of them overtaking Portland in the standings.

Seattle Sounders at LA Galaxy

Saturday, 7:30 pm, NBC Sports

Root For: LA Galaxy

Why? A win for the Galaxy would put them ahead of the Timbers in the standings, but sometimes you need to stand on principle and just root against Seattle. The fact that an LA win would keep the Timbers within three points of the current leaders in the race for the Supporters' Shield is certainly an added bonus. Momentum-wise, a draw or a Seattle win here might actually be better for the Timbers as they take on LA next Sunday, but as long as hope remains to take home the shield, it must be clung to.

FC Dallas at New York Red Bulls

Sunday, 2:00 pm, Unimas

Root For: FC Dallas

Why? Rooting for another Western Conference team to win? What is this? Well, a Red Bulls win puts them at the top of the Supporters Shield standings, two points ahead of Seattle (games-in-hand notwithstanding) and, as we alluded to in the previous section, a Supporters Shield win for the Timbers would be amazing. Also, Stephen Keel's hair plays for Dallas.

Disagree with the prognosis? Let us know in the comments. Plus, if you are going to be watching any of these games, feel free to discuss them here.

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