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MLS Western Conference Week 14: The Timbers Bump

Just one of the 4,000 times Landon Donovan was gifted the ball behind the RSL defense.
Just one of the 4,000 times Landon Donovan was gifted the ball behind the RSL defense.

Here's a bizarre little anomaly.

So far this year, the Timbers have not lost to a team that had won its previous match, nor have they beaten a team coming off a loss.

Even weirder: every time the Timbers have lost this year (six times), the winning team has gone on to win its next game. Whether it's purely coincidence or some kind of magical wizardry being cooked up at the league office, Portland has unwillingly served as a good luck charm for struggling teams this year.

I'm calling the phenomenon "The Timbers Bump."

Right now the Los Angeles Galaxy are making the most of their Timbers Bump. They had lost three straight before hosting Portland, and now they've won three straight, climbing from last place to fifth in the process. In two matches since, they have scored six goals, even while Landon Donovan has missed more nearly open nets than most strikers even see in a whole season.

The bad news for the Timbers is that their next opponent, Colorado, is coming off a loss to San Jose and has fallen to sixth place in the table (although by ppm they're still ahead of LA). Stumptown Footy is hoping this week's MLS Western Conference update (which continues after the jump) will break whatever spell has conjured up this Timbers Bump.

San Jose Earthquakes

Last week: 2-1 win at Colorado; 2-1 win at Salt Lake

Undaunted by elevation and relying almost entirely on Alan Gordon's now commonplace late-game heroics, the Earthquakes have reclaimed the first position in the Western Conference table. They didn't exactly dominate either game and got a couple of amazing goal line saves from defender Jason Hernandez (who is up for Save of the Week for one of them).

In short, the Quakes are getting away with some stuff right now. This Saturday's game against an even luckier LA side should be interesting to watch, if only for the clash of mystical energy forces currently fueling each team's success.

Week 15 projection: 3-2 win vs Los Angeles

Real Salt Lake

Last week: 3-2 loss vs Los Angeles; 2-1 loss vs San Jose

Another week to forget for Jason Kreis' side, particularly for the back line. Every member of that club had at least one massive miscue last week, starting with Tony Beltran's lackadaisical back pass that didn't quite make it to Nick Rimando, and ending with Nat Borchers' two failures to challenge Alan Gordon in the air. The result: two losses at home. Suddenly the formerly robust RSL back line isn't doing the little things right, and they're getting severely punished.

Salt Lake fans will hope this is nothing but a small lapse in concentration forced upon by the Timbers Bump; I think they'll recover quickly enough.

Week 15 projection: 2-1 win at Columbus

Vancouver Whitecaps

Last week: 1-1 draw vs New York; 3-0 loss at Los Angeles

Another unwitting victim of the Timbers Bump, the Whitecaps suffered their second worst defeat of the year, as a result of some sloppy play at the back. Moreover, with Omar Salgado out with an injury, Camilo Sanvezzo falling out of favor, and Eric Hassli trying to avoid a card accumulation suspension, Vancouver's excessive striker depth suddenly doesn't look like enough. And now Darren Mattocks has joined Hassli among those whose next yellow card will mean a suspension. In just seven appearances (four starts). Eek.

Week 15: bye

Seattle Sounders

Last week: 1-1 draw vs Kansas; 2-1 loss at Portland

We all saw what happened on Sunday. Seattle fans will acknowledge that their team did not play particularly well. They will hope their team turns things around tonight against the Quakes in the US Open Cup. Or if not then, next weekend in New England. I'm sure it'll be a nice break to play in front of a quieter crowd.

Week 15 projection: 3-2 win at New England

Colorado Rapids

Last week: 2-1 loss vs San Jose

We'll have more about our next opponent later on in the week, but suffice it to say, giving up three points at home against SJ did not result from a lack of quality on Colorado's part. They will be a difficult opponent on Saturday, especially after a week-and-a-half break.

Week 15 projection: I'd rather not say.

LA Galaxy

Last week: 3-2 win at Salt Lake; 3-0 win vs Vancouver

Don't call it a comeback.

The national media are just beaming with delight at the Galaxy's "turn-around" but none of them apparently bothered actually watching the games. They played three teams in quick succession that had temporarily forgotten how to play soccer. There's simply no other way to explain their oppositions' sudden, uncontrollable desire to repeatedly put the ball at Landon Donovan's feet with only the keeper to beat.

Week 15 projection: 3-2 loss at San Jose

Chivas USA

Last week: 2-1 win vs Montreal; 0-0 draw at Dallas

Say what you will about Chivas -- these guys continue to play defense. Their stubborn defending helped them just barely escape Dallas with a point, while their offensive production remains wildly inconsistent. Lucky for them they get another long break to help figure things out.

Week 15: bye

FC Dallas

Last week: 0-0 draw vs Chivas

I've been pretty hard on Dallas in this space for the past few weeks -- and rightly so, considering the unsavory ways in which they've dealt with their frustration of late. This weekend, however, was a significant departure from their recent woes. With Brek Shea finally joining Jackson and Fabian Castillo in an improved attacking formation, Dallas dominated the match against a resolute Chivas defense, only just failing to score. Expect them to turn the corner very soon. Lucky for them, their next opponent is Toronto.

Week 15: bye