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Portland Timbers Postscript: Falling Slowly

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Once at the top of the Western Conference standings, injuries and ill-timed suspensions have left the Portland Timbers just a hair north of the red line.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

By the Numbers

40

Number of league matches since the Portland Timbers last lost two straight (July 29, 2012)

1

Remaining number of MLS teams that have yet to lose two consecutive matches in 2013 (Philadelphia Union)

29

Number of league matches since the last time the Timbers lost by two or more goals (October 7, 2012)

0

Remaining number of MLS teams that have yet to lose by two or more goals in 2013

0.8

Average number of goals the Timbers have allowed per 90' when Will Johnson has played

1.8

Average number of goals the Timbers have allowed per 90' without Will Johnson in the lineup

Moment of the Match

While the Timbers have allowed quite a few more goals in recent matches than fans had grown accustomed to earlier in the season, most of them had been allowed on set pieces and similar scrambles in the box. Very few of the goals the Timbers have allowed this year have originated intentionally from the run of play.

Then Friday's game against Real Salt Lake happened. Luis Gil's opening goal seemed to catch everyone with their pants down, as it resulted from a simple succession of precise passes that opened up the Timbers' defensive shape. Once again it came within the first ten minutes, and once again the Timbers reacted poorly to it.

Though Timbers fans are getting used to seeing this kind of breakdown, some even lamenting a lost season (I heard more than a couple fans at the Rose & Thistle declare the playoffs out of reach on Friday night), they should remember that the team is so thin right now that the 18 on Friday featured a player who had yet to see even reserve minutes this season -- and that four academy players started in the reserve squad's 1-0 loss on Saturday.

If the season is really going off the rails, we'll know it this coming weekend, when the team hosts the perennially hapless Toronto FC. If the injury-plagued Portland can't break the Reds, then the rest of the season might just be about hoping guys like Will Johnson and Frederic Piquionne can come back before they fall out of playoff contention.

Injuries and Suspensions

As if the final result wasn't bad enough, the Timbers may now be dealing with even more absences in upcoming matches.

Diego Valeri left the game very early on with what appeared (by his gesticulations) to be a groin pull. Mr Conwell will be updating us this week on his status.

And the depth in the center midfield will be tested once again, after the red card given to Ben Zemanski. If Valeri joins Zemanski out of the lineup against Toronto, and Will Johnson and Jack Jewsbury haven't recovered either, it seems there's a decent chance we'll see Steven Evans in the starting eleven.

Around the League

Columbus Crew 0:1 Seattle Sounders

Eddie Johnson proved his detractors right once again, converting a gorgeous Mauro Rosales set-piece and then demanding that somebody, somewhere, pay him for it. So much hate.

Sporting Kansas City 2:1 Colorado Rapids

SKC put an end to Colorado's nine-game unbeaten streak that had brought the Rapids level with the Timbers in the Western Conference standings with a late winner from Graham Zusi.

Vancouver Whitecaps 2:2 Chivas USA

Erick Torres scored twice early to put Chivas ahead, but they let Vancouver pick away at them, first off a mental error by keeper Dan Kennedy. Erik Hurtado, who had skied a handful of equalizer attempts, brilliantly assisted Tommy Heinemann for the stoppage time equalizer. Chivas, though they sit deep in the Western Conference basement, showed that they are no longer the conference's pushovers.