With a full week remaining before the Portland Timbers' do or die second leg against Real Salt Lake, Timbers fans have been going more than a little bit stir-crazy. The crazy blitz of playoff game after playoff game, three in nine days, has made the fourteen day layoff between games stretch on forever.
Last week we covered some of what went wrong and some of what the Timbers need to change. Over at RSL Soapbox they have taken a look at some of what Salt Lake did well in the first leg, the rise of two of their young stars, and their current forward conundrum.
The Timbers are two goals down on aggregate. They were played off the pitch from the 15' to the 83'. Their star playmaker, Diego Valeri, did not practice last week. Things are looking grim.
The Timbers, however, don't seem to have gotten the message.
At practice last week the Timbers started off upbeat and relaxed on Wednesday then got serious and focused on Thursday before ending the week with a closed scrimmage on Friday.
Early in the week, Caleb Porter talked to the press about the team's reaction to the long break.
It's not all bad for us to have that time, even though our guys are excited to get back into the game. To have some time to get over that loss, to have some time to prepare tactically, to have some time to get sharp, to have some time to gear up for us is maybe a good thing.
Last week's practices looked suspiciously like something you might see in the preseason: having fun, getting back to basics, and getting fit. This week's routine will be much closer to what we have been seeing for the last eight months. Tactics, tape, and run-throughs will be on offer through Saturday as the team bears down on Sunday's second leg against RSL.
According to Porter, the Timbers do no intend quietly and, in a game that could be the best match up of the season, they will need to muster every ounce of will that they have to get past Salt Lake.
At the end of the day, we want to win the MLS Cup regardless of what the circumstances are. We are going to go down swinging. We are going to give everything we have.