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A Timbers fan’s MLS rooting guide: Matchday 21

What you should root for this weekend so Portland can finally get above the red line

MLS: Orlando City SC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone done basking in the glory of the rivalry win? Not yet? Yeah, me neither. But we better finish up quick, because more MLS is right around the corner, and the table is tightening up.

Seven points separate the sixth place and tenth place teams in the Western Conference, and the Timbers are right in the middle of it in ninth place — just two points below the red line. The win in Seattle was huge, but looming just as large are the two straight home draws. The (admittedly weird) reality is that Portland has to show it can win at home.

This weekend is a perfect time to do that: If results do break Portland’s way, they may find themselves above the red line for the first time since the first week of the season. The Timbers will be without Chara this weekend, however, so, if results don’t break Portland’s way, they could find themselves stuck in ninth, tied on points with SKC.

No, I’m not nervous at all.

Here’s what you should root for in MLS this weekend so that Timbers fans may sleep a little easier on Saturday night. (All times PDT.)

NYCFC v. Sporting Kansas City (Friday, 4:30 p.m.)

It’s weird to me to see Sporting’s season going all wrong like it is. They’ve been so consistent in the Peter Vermes era that it’s odd to see them sliding so much. They dropped a big game at home against Dallas last week, and with them right behind Portland in the standings, I’m hoping they drop another one in the Bronx this weekend

Preferred result: An extremely demoralizing 3-0 NYCFC win, where SKC is played off the pitch. And since the Yankee Stadium pitch is approximately the size of a matchbox, they won’t have to go all that far.

LAFC v. Atlanta (Friday, 7:00 p.m.)

This game has the chance to be the most entertaining game of the weekend: If LAFC remembers that they’re a buzzsaw, it could be a game where Atlanta is just torn to pieces. Or, if Atlanta remembers that they’re actually playing good soccer (like I think Timbers fans should be hoping for), they could escape with a gritty road win.

Preferred result: Atlanta uglies it up and grinds out a 1-0 win. Atlanta gets the winner off of a Josef Martinez penalty kick, but this time he actually scores after his excessive run-up.

New England Revolution v. Orlando City SC (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.)

Outside of San Jose, the Revs are the hottest team in MLS ... and that’s the weirdest sentence to write about MLS in 2019. Personally, I’m hoping that this recent success will persuade their owner to actually care about and invest in the team — not just treat them as a cute side project to his annoyingly successful American football team.

Preferred result: New England wins 3-1, Bruce Arena looks smug, and Robert Kraft finally realizes that having your soccer team play in an American football stadium is dumb (something a certain Cascadia team has yet to realize).

New York Red Bulls v. Columbus Crew SC (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)

Caleb finally got a win! At home! I’m genuinely happy that our old coach had something good happen with his new team! And I want the good times to keep rolling for him, purely for the heck of it!

Preferred result: A 3-2 Columbus win where Gyasi Zardes misses three sitters, but then somehow scores the winner with the back of his left calf. I don’t know how that even happens, but if anyone can figure out how, it’s Zardes.

Chicago Fire v. DC United (Saturday, 5:00 p.m.)

These matchups between older MLS clubs always makes me think about their direction, how they’ve adapted, and how they’ve grown their ambition. DC opened a fancy new stadium and signed an English soccer legend. Chicago … might be moving back to Soldier Field? That’s a step in the right direction, but … (See previous comment about soccer in American football stadiums.)

Preferred result: DC United wins 3-0, with all three goals coming off of set pieces. Or, Chicago somehow pulls off a 2-1 win and keeps their season on life support. Either is fine, but — please, oh please — anything but a boring draw.

FC Dallas v. Real Salt Lake (Saturday, 5:00 p.m.)

Both teams are ahead of the Timbers in the standings but, at the moment, RSL is the better candidate for the Timbers to jump. Plus, Portland only has one game in hand over them versus two games in hand over Dallas. Let’s go, Burn.

Preferred result: Dallas wins 3-1; after the game, Mike Petke frantically scrambles to sign the Rio Tinto Cat as his new left back.

Houston Dynamo v. Seattle Sounders (Saturday, 5:00 p.m.)

Ugh. Rooting interest in this one kind of sucks. On one hand, I am most usually inclined to root against Seattle in all circumstances; on the other, the Dynamo got an improbable win in Toronto to stay above Portland, and are still prime candidates for the Timbers to jump. Breaking my rule again here, but I think I have to: Root for a draw.

Preferred result: A boring 0-0 draw where absolutely nothing interesting happens, so you should just probably not even bother to watch the game.

Minnesota United FC v. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Saturday, 5:00 p.m.)

With one eye on the upcoming Twin Cities double that the Timbers will soon be facing with Minnesota, I want Minnesota to dip in form just a bit. On top of the fact that — even with a positive result — Vancouver’s season is still circling the drain, so I’m pulling for the Whitecaps here.

Preferred result: Vancouver wins 2-1, with all goals scored in the first half. Whitecaps fans feel just a tiny glimmer of hope, but then they quickly remember that they got upset by a Canadian Premier League team in the Canadian Championship, and then proceed to feel sad again.

Montreal Impact v. Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 5:00 p.m.)

Montreal is a bit of a train wreck at the moment, and Philly is the best team in the Eastern Conference. So, naturally, because I am team #RootForChaos, I want to see Montreal win and mess up everyone’s power rankings.

Preferred result: Montreal wins 2-0, and Maxi Urruti finally scores a screamer. Really, I mean it this time. He’s really gonna do it. Promise.

Toronto FC v. FC Cincinnati (Saturday, 5:00 p.m.)

With Cincinnati's season effectively over, I’m genuinely curious about what the fate of Fanendo Adi will be. He has only one goal in 12 appearances, he’s a DP, and Cincinnati is staring at a years-long rebuild. Will he stick around? Will he get traded again? Will scoring a signature brace this weekend change the conversation around him? Maybe we’ll see ...

Preferred result: Cincinnati wins 2-0 off an Adi brace. None of the above questions are definitively answered.

San Jose Earthquakes v. Colorado Rapids (Saturday, 7:00 p.m.)

San Jose has got to come down to Earth at some point, right? Trap games are starting to become Colorado’s specialty, so this feels like when it’s gonna happen. Plus, a Rapids win would help keep San Jose just within touching distance of Portland in the table.

Preferred result: Colorado wins 2-1, but San Jose breaks their own record for shots and out-shoots Colorado 33-3. Unfortunately, only 10 of those shots are on target. Tim Howard is disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to break his own personal record for saves that he set against Belgium in 2014.

There’s your rooting guide for everything before Portland kicks off Saturday night. Disagree with any of them? Let me know below!