It’s time for another forecast, even if the last two haven’t gone so well.
In brief, the Portland Timbers lost 2-1 to the Seattle Sounders. That means a lot of things: The Timbers are now the proud owners of a two-game losing streak; they missed out on the Cascadia Cup; they are back below the playoff line, five points below a home playoff match and three points away from any playoff game at all; and, did I mention it was Seattle that beat them?
As is the trend with PTFC losses, they let their opponent score first. Zarek Valentin, the normally reliable defender, got clowned by Jordan Morris — the ball ricocheted in the box for a moment, and Cristian Roldan put the ball in the net. Then (surprise, surprise) the Timbers had another 50/50 handball call go against them, so they didn’t get a chance at a penalty kick. The Timbers went into half-time down 1-0.
Two minutes into the second half, it was 2-0. Morris got the better of Valentin again and, unlike the match in Seattle, Raul Ruidiaz remembered how to finish. PTFC fought hard to come back in the second half, but it turns out they still struggle to break a bunker, and they could only get one goal, thanks to a Diego Valeri free kick. The match finished 2-1.
UNOprivateer was pessimistic enough to predict a loss and the Ruidiaz–Morris connection, and they earn the prediction of the week with seven points. By predicting that Valeri would score from a PK/FK, STYLES34 earned five points and gained some ground on Timbers Pride, who now leads by 13 points with eight matches to go!
And on to the standings...
Standings Match 26
This week, the Timbers will once again have a chance to gain ground in the standings with a match against fellow Western Conference playoff hopefuls, Real Salt Lake. Currently, RSL are owners of second in the West, owning the tiebreaker over the Sounders, who have the same number of points and points per game. RSL recently let go of their head coach, Mike Petke, but his interim replacement, Freddy Juarez, has only lost one game thus far.
Portland beat RSL in May as they climbed out of their early season slump, but, given recent records, it seems that Salt Lake has progressed since then, while the Timbers have regressed as they’ve dealt with key injuries in defense. Based on the last two games, though, it’s not just the defense that’s struggling: PTFC has scored zero goals from the run of play since they beat 10-man Chicago. On top of that, as we saw last Friday, the Timbers can still lose at home to a team they beat on the road. That said, RSL’s record is bolstered by their ten wins in Utah, not their road form, so the Timbers certainly aren’t underdogs in their own house at Providence Park. Can they turn expectations to reality and keep three points in Portland?
Total Cards O/U: 3.5
The Scoring Format:
- Correct score: 5 points
- Correct result (draw/win/loss): 3 points
- Each clean sheet: 2 points
- Each goal-scorer: 1 point
- Each FK/PK/assist/lack of assist: 1 point
- Goal/assist bonus: 1 point
- Player with the first yellow card of the match: 1 point
- Each player with a red card: 1 point (You cannot earn points for predicting 0 red cards, but you may predict up to 3 players with a red.)
- Over/under on total cards: 1 point
Some ground rules and explanations/clarifications (the fine print):
You may amend your prediction at any point up to kickoff to account for game day 18 announcements. I recommend at least getting an initial prediction sooner, just in case you forget to come back in that hour or two before the game.
Keep your scoreline predictions realistic. Basically, if you’re predicting lots of goals all the time to just earn points on goals and assists and ignoring the score, I feel that goes against the spirit of this thread. This hasn’t been at all a problem in the last few years, so let’s keep it that way!
The goal/assist bonus is an additional point if you correctly get the correct scorer and assistant on the same goal. (For example, if Blanco scores, assisted by Valeri, and you predicted that exact combination, you get a total of three points: 1 goal, 1 assist, 1 bonus.)
Please be clear whether you think a goal will be unassisted, assisted, or from a PK/FK: Unassisted = no assist, run of play; Assisted = player who got the assist; PK/FK = directly from a free kick. For the purposes of this thread, a PK counts as an FK, and an FK as a PK. Just like predicting a player assist, you earn an assist point if you correctly predict an unassisted or free kick goal. If you just leave the assist section blank, I will assume you’re declining to make an assist prediction.
Even though a player can be awarded a secondary assist by OPTA, I will award a maximum of one assist point per goal. But that point can come from either the primary or secondary assist in the box score. However, please keep your predictions to one assist per goal.
For the over/under on cards, a second yellow leading to a red counts as two cards, not three.
You may predict more than one red card if you’re expecting a chippy match, but only up to three total.
If you’re looking for where I set the over/under on total cards, check the end of the preview paragraph after the standings.
In the comment title, post your predicted score with the winners; for example, 4-2 Timbers
In the body of your comment, start with the goals and assists, like so:
Valeri (Free kick)
Graham Zusi (Free kick)
Krisztian Nemeth (Johnny Russel)
Next, choose your first yellow card, and that means picking only one person:
First yellow to Matt Besler
Then reds, if any. (NOTE: No points awarded for correctly calling a red-card-free match, so take a guess.):
Roger Espinoza gets a red card for stomping Blanco.
Clearly note whether you’re predicting over or under on total cards. Don’t leave me to try to figure it out!