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Match Preview: Merlo Finale

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T2 play this afternoon at Merlo Field. The final match at Merlo for their inaugural season. Following this, their final home match will be at Providence Park before the regular season draws to a close in Carson, California.

Portland Timbers 2

T2 (10-13-2, 32 pts) succumbed to a 3-0 defeat away to Orange County Blues FC. And with that, their post season hopes likely died too. T2 continue to sit in 8th place, not having moved out of 8th in some time, with 32 points. Sacramento Republic sit in 6th place with 38 points. Orange County, S2, and the next opponents: Colorado Springs all sit tied with 39 points. S2 is the only team of these four that does not have a game in hand over T2.

So T2 are not by any means mathematically eliminated as any one of the four teams could lose 4 straight, while T2 wins 3 in a row and might sneak in. But in reality those chances are slim. However, facing Colorado Springs next and then Sacramento, both at home, is that sliver of hope.

The match this afternoon will not be without its challenges. When T2 faced Colorado Springs on June 10th, they put themselves in a first half hole again, and could not get out of it as they lost 3-1 in the mile high state. And T2 will be short a number of players due to international call ups. Rundell Winchester is with Trinidad and Tobago. He was on the bench as they drew Mexico 3-3 last night in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium. Michael Seaton was with the Jamaican National Team as they lost to Nicaragua 3-2 last night as well. And lastly, Tim Payne will be with New Zealand as they play an international friendly against Myanmar on Monday the 7th.

But the good news will be that the first team has the weekend off and this is a home match. So there could be first team loans to help fill the international absences. I'm interested to see if George Fochive plays. He started against Seattle and he will be needed again versus Sporting Kansas City since both Will Johnson and Diego Chara will, once again, not play. I can't imagine he would need to. With Payne out and Fochive with the first team, Nick Besler should definitely start and it would likely be Blair Gavin who partners with him in central midfield. Then again, Diego Chara is on red card suspension with the first team and he needs to stay in shape? We can dream.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC

Colorado Springs (12-9-3, 39 pts) come to Portland for the first time. After defeating T2 3-1 at home, they travel to face them in the reverse fixture. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC is quite the mouthful. They arrive in Portland having most recently suffered defeat at the hands of Real Monarchs. At Rio Tinto Stadium on Aug 26th, they lost 2-1 to the hosts.

In addition to the loss, one of their midfielders Rony Argueta received his 5th yellow card and will be sitting this match out due to suspension. But Colorado Springs should be very hungry for all three points in this match. A victory would clinch a playoff spot for them. Right now they share 3rd place with Orange County and S2. If Colorado Springs defeats T2 and Arizona United tie or lose to Real Monarchs then Colorado Springs will clinch a western conference playoff spot. It should also nearly mathematically eliminate T2 from the playoffs as well. So both teams will be hungry for the victory.

After tonight's match T2 stay in Portland. They will play their final home match at Providence Park on Saturday, September 12th. They will host reigning USL Champs, Sacramento Republic. After that final regular season home game, T2 will have to travel one last time. Playing their final regular season match against LA Galaxy II in Carson, CA on Wednesday, Sept 16th.

Match Information

Watch it: Streamed live on Timbers2.com

Kickoff: Saturday, September 5th, 3:00pm pacific, at Merlo Field in Portland, OR

Portland Timbers 2: 10-13-2, 32pts, 8th place in the USL Western Conference

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: 12-9-3, 39pts, 3rd place in the USL Western Conference