Who Should Take Portland's Playoff Penalties?

USA TODAY Sports

If the Timbers lose by a single goal to Seattle on Thursday night, they could face a penalty shootout in order to advance.

In the 2013 season, the Portland Timbers scored from the penalty spot three times. On four occasions, including in two of the same games where the Timbers converted penalties, Portland allowed penalties. Why are we talking about this now? Because any one-goal victory by the Seattle Sounders on Thursday night would result in overtime and lacking another goal for either side, a penalty shootout.

Let's go back through each of the penalties converted and conceded:

Converted:

Date Opponent Location Player Score (Final Score)
March 30 Colorado Rapids Dick's Sporting Goods Park Will Johnson 2-2
May 18 Vancouver Whitecaps BC Place Will Johnson 2-1 (2-2)
August 21 Real Salt Lake Jeld-Wen Field Diego Valeri 2-2 (3-3)

Conceded:

Date Opponent Location Player Score (Final Score)
March 30 Colorado Rapids Dick's Sporting Goods Park Hendry Thomas 2-0 (2-2)
May 8 FC Dallas FC Dallas Stadium Kenny Cooper 1-1 (1-1)
July 27 San Jose Earthquakes Buck Shaw Stadium Victor Bernardez 1-0 (2-1)
August 21 Real Salt Lake Jeld-Wen Field Javier Morales 1-2 (3-3)

Federico Higuain also missed a penalty against Portland this season in the July 7 game at Columbus Crew Stadium.

Interestingly, only two penalties were taken all season at Jeld-Wen Field with the Timbers scoring one and conceding one in the same August game against Real Salt Lake. Will Johnson took two of the three Portland penalties this year with Diego Valeri taking the sole home spot kick. A variety of different types of players took and scored penalties against Portland, each of which came against Donovan Ricketts.

Speaking of Ricketts, he has allowed 18 penalties since moving to MLS in 2009. In addition to his four this season, he conceded once last season with Portland and incredibly seven times in 24 matches with Montreal Impact earlier in 2012. His other six came with LA Galaxy between 2009-2011. Apart from Higuain's miss, Ricketts has only ever stopped one other penalty during his time in MLS, and that came in against New York Red Bulls and Juan Pablo Angel back in 2009. Though he started the 2009 MLS Cup final against Real Salt Lake in Seattle, Ricketts came off injured in the 66th minute with Josh Saunders filling in for overtime and the subsequent penalty shootout. The Timbers' goalkeeper has never faced a penalty against the Sounders in his five MLS seasons.

On Portland's side, of course it was Jack Jewsbury who was the penalty taker for most of 2011 and 2012. Kenny Cooper (in)famously missed twice against DC United in 2011 but both were called back for encroachment before Jewsbury went to the spot and finally scored past Bill Hamid. Of Jewsbury's seven goals in the Timbers' debut MLS season, three came from penalties, including the DC encounter. In 2012, the club was not awarded a single penalty, so data from that season is pretty much confined to this sentence.

One final note, the Timbers last faced a penalty shootout against the Sounders in the 2010 US Open Cup. Of those who took penalties for Portland on that day, only Futty Danso remains on the team. He dramatically put his past Kasey Keller nearly three-and-a-half years ago. On the Seattle side, Steve Zakuani, who scored, Patrick Ianni, who missed, and Zach Scott, who scored the deciding penalty, are still with the club.

So, the question is, who should Caleb Porter have lined up for a potential shootout late on Saturday night? It's worth keeping in mind that Valeri has not played past the 80th minute since August 25. Though he has been used as a second half substitute on a number of occasions since then.

What is your preferred penalty taking order? Does the general lack of penalties over the years make Portland less likely to succeed if the game comes down to spot kicks?

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UPDATE: Some folks made a good point that penalties are awarded in games other than regular season. Though the 2012 Timbers were not awarded any penalties in MLS play, of course everyone remembers the Kris Boyd miss in the US Open Cup.

In 2013, Futty Danso converted a penalty in July as the Timbers defeated Monarcas Morelia in a friendly, 1-0. No other penalties were awarded for or against Portland in other friendlies or Open Cup games this year.

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