I normally don’t wade into the blessed weirdness that is midweek MLS action with rooting guides. This is for two main reasons: one, the games are normally dull 1-0 or 1-1 affairs featuring bench players and disjointed play, and two, because we all usually have something better to do with our Wednesday (and sometimes Thursday) nights. So I usually try to concentrate my scoreboard-watching anxiety to exclusively weekends, for my own health.
However this week, I think it’s worth it to Portland Timbers fans to maybe take a quick glance at the four games kicking off Wednesday evening. Three of them feature RSL, San Jose, and the Galaxy; all rivals whom the Timbers will be battling against right up until October 9th for playoff positioning. I don’t need to tell you how packed the Western Conference currently is, so any chance that the teams above and around Portland in the standings have to drop points is pivotal at this point in the season.
So against better arguments for my blood pressure, let’s all take a deep breath and get invested in some midweek MLS. Here’s who Timbers fans should root for in the Wednesday night MLS action:
NYCFC vs. Toronto FC (4:00pm)
The one game that Timbers fans probably don’t have to pay attention to, unless you need something to watch at Happy Hour. This could be a really entertaining game though. NYC is trying their mighty best to prove they’re the best team in MLS not named LAFC, and Toronto is trying its mighty best to prove that they’re not irrelevant again. Might get weird in the Bronx.
Preferred Result: A 3-1 NYC win, because yes I am still salty about MLS Cup 2016. Scoreless at halftime, Toronto scores in the first minute of the second half. But then NYC blitzes them for three goals in five minutes. The crowd is so jubilant that for a moment they forget they’re watching soccer being played on a baseball field. But then they quickly remember, and become sad. Because playing soccer on a baseball diamond is bad.
Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United (5:30pm)
I could try to rank the following three games in terms of importance to Portland’s fate in the standings, but honestly they’re all equally significant. Minnesota stands two points ahead of the Timbers, and them dropping points would leave the door open for Portland to rise up to second in the West. Houston’s season is just about over, so they are nicely primed to be the late season spoiler team that they were last year.
Preferred Result: A 2-0 Dynamo win. Tommy McNamara does not score, but as a midfield destroyer he stops numerous attacks with multiple strategic tackles. Several of them could have been red card worthy, but he miraculously finishes the game with only a yellow. Davy Arnaud, interim Houston coach, looks on and smiles satisfyingly. He thinks to himself, “Tommy’s training in the dark arts is complete… good. Today, it was Minnesota. But next season… the rest of the league!”
Colorado Rapids vs. LA Galaxy (6:00pm)
Stop me if you heard this one before: The LA Galaxy started the season with hope, but despite a strong start and having Zlatan are now at risk of missing the playoffs. Doing this season after season might just be the Galaxy’s new thing folks, and I kind of love it. What will the odds be on Zlatan just up and leaving LA without a word if the Galaxy miss the playoffs again? Like 70%? I hope we get to find out.
Preferred Result: Colorado wins 3-0. After surviving a blizzard, plague infested prairie dogs, and another disappointing season, Rapids fans are finally blessed with a beautiful day where their team looks like a good and skilled squad. Passes flow around the field, Tim Howard looks like the Secretary of Defense again, and Zlatan can do nothing but just stand and mope.
Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes (6:30pm)
One half of my brain: “Hear me out, RSL winning is better because it would start to drive San Jose towards another dip in form, which may cause them to spiral to the end of the season and fall out of the playoffs.”
Other half of my brain: “You ninny. San Jose winning would be better for Portland because the Timbers play them on decision day and have a chance to pick those points back up. And San Jose has the more difficult remaining schedule so there’s more chances for them to drop points.”
What I decided to write: Eh, probably should just root for a draw.
Preferred Result: A dull and dreary 0-0 draw. Rimando saves a penalty kick, while Albert Rusnak fires a penalty into the sun. Both teams finish below 0.5 expected goals, and there are only six shots total the entire game, with only four total being on target.
Think tonight’s results should break another way? Leave a shout in the comments.