Portland Timbers 2
T2 (10-12-2, 32 pts) kept themselves relevant in the race for a final playoff spot with one of their best performances to date. T2 also put up their first home clean sheet of the season in their 2-0 victory over Tulsa. Despite T2 securing 2 wins at home they haven't moved up in the standings. The teams around them continue to get the points they need too. So unfortunately T2 continue to sit in 8th place. Gaining 3 points over a team above them (Tulsa) helped but Orange County currently hold the 6th and final playoff spot 4 points over T2. If T2 can secure the away win, it will put them within 1 point of a playoff spot with 3 matches to go. Anything less than 3 points however will likely all but mathematically eliminate them.
Against Vancouver, Belmar got his 10th and 11th goals of the season and he tallied goal number 12 against Tulsa. So the team will look to him to continue his current goal scoring form. In addition, Fatawu returned from a yellow card accumulation suspension and scored the second goal against Tulsa in his substitute appearance. Tulsa made the mistake of giving Fatawu too much time and space to shoot from distance.
Returning from yellow card accumulation suspension will also be Rundell Winchester. No one else on the team should be suspended for this match. Only Tim Payne and Andy Thoma are at four yellow cards at this time. But Diego Chara is suspended for two matches now (at Seattle and vs Sporting Kansas City). In addition, Will Johnson is possibly out against Seattle due to leg soreness and definitely out against Sporting Kansas City due to an international call up with Canada. So it is highly unlikely we see George Fochive travel with T2 to southern California. He will absolutely be in the 18 for the first team if Will Johnson can play, or starting alongside Jack Jewsbury if Johnson can't play. In fact, with no one left to sit on the bench as a center mid backup, one has to wonder if we may even see Nick Besler down south or if he makes the bench for the first team.
With T2 playing at 7pm in southern California, who we see in the XI and on the bench will likely speak volumes to who we shall expect to see with the first team early Sunday afternoon in Seattle. If Besler is absent in addition to Fochive that will likely confirm Will Johnson will be out of the 18. And if we see Luthy starting in goal then we know Gleeson will be on the bench. Now Gleeson has made the overnight trip once before to be on the bench for the first team and start for T2, but Saturday night in SoCal to Sunday morning in Seattle seems like it could be pushing it.
This is T2's second to last road match. After this trip to Irvine, CA they will return home for two home matches before playing their final regular season match in Carson, CA against LA Galaxy II.
Orange County Blues FC
OC Blues (11-9-3, 36 pts) will host T2 after taking a 1-0 loss in Austin to the Aztex. The loss snapped their 6 game unbeaten run (4-0-2). So they will be looking to rebound with a home game against a team they took all three points from when they visited Portland.
OC Blues FC came to Portland and played T2 (more like T1.5) at Providence Park and absolutely ran them off the pitch in a dominant 2-0 victory. Now with a home field advantage Orange County will look to repeat that and rebound from their loss to make sure they stay in the playoffs and prevent T2 from catching up. Orange County are an impressive 7-3-1 at home this season.
With a victory Orange County will jump into a three way tie with Colorado Springs and S2. If they lose, T2 gets to within one point of the 5th and 6th playoff spots currently held by Tulsa and Orange County tied at 36 points each. Again, in order to stay relevant in the playoff race T2 will need all three points. It will be difficult, especially depending on who they could be missing from the first team, but if they want it more than Orange County it won't be impossible.
After tonight's match in Irvine, CA T2 will return home to host Colorado Springs at Merlo Field on Saturday, Sept 5th followed by hosting Sacramento Republic at Providence Park on Saturday, Sept 12th.
Watch it: Streamed live on Timbers2.com
Kickoff: Saturday, August 29th, 7:00pm pacific, at Anteater Stadium in Irvine, CA
Portland Timbers 2: 10-12-2, 32pts, 8th place in the USL Western Conference
Orange County Blues FC: 11-9-3, 36pts, 6th place in the USL Western Conference