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MLS rooting guide for Timbers fans: Matchday 28

The “playoff rat race” edition

Kris Lattimore

Always nice when the rooting guide turns into correct predictions, huh?

Seriously, the midweek results turned out pretty dang great for the Portland Timbers. Minnesota dropped points and dropped in the standings, and the Galaxy managed to continue their late season fumbling and stay behind Portland in the standings. Even RSL winning isn’t too bad; there’s still a real probability Portland could finish the weekend ahead of them based off of goal differential.

Now, none of the above means a lick of anything unless Portland holds up their end of the bargain and, y’know, keeps winning. The race for the playoffs is only going to get more murderous, so Portland essentially has to keep winning just to keep pace. There’s a discussion to be had later of where Portland could finish in the standings, but right now, Timbers fans’ focus should be on the team solidifying their position in the playoffs.

Something that would go a long way towards doing that would be results shaking out this weekend as favorably as they did on Wednesday. Here’s what Timbers fans should root for on Saturday and Sunday:

NYCFC vs. San Jose Earthquakes (Saturday, 9:30 a.m.)

Let the late season San Jose slide begin! The ‘Quakes have won just two of their past seven games, and appear to be in a race to the bottom with their Cali Classico rivals to the south. It doesn’t get any easier for them with a trip to NYCFC’s baseball diamond, where they face what might be the best team in the East.

Root for: A 3-1 NYC win. Eager to follow up his goal from Wednesday, Alexandru Mitrita scores from another free kick, and this time actually kicks the ball so hard it breaks through the net and flies out of the stadium. The Yankee stadium PA system, getting their sports confused, runs the video and audio for a home run. Because you knew it had to happen at some point.

Chicago Fire vs. FC Dallas (Saturday, 12:30 p.m.)

Two teams who wear primarily red are fighting for their playoff lives. Weird to say for Chicago, who have been teetering for what feels like the entire season, and pretty normal to say for Dallas, who seem to make “scraping into the playoffs” a regular event.

Root for: A 1-0 Chicago win, to help further the distance between the Burn and the Timbers. Dax McCarty scores and then in honor of their recently announced move back to Soldier Field in downtown Chicago, proceeds to try to do a field goal celebration with Bastian Schweinsteiger. Basti just stares blankly as Dax holds up both of his arms. It’s very awkward.

Atlanta United vs. Columbus Crew SC (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.)

Atlanta has one major domestic trophy this season and are going to have the chance to defend their MLS Cup, but for some reason Atlanta fans just don’t seem happy. On the other side, Caleb Porter would love nothing more than to prove that he can do what his former club couldn’t: beat Atlanta in Atlanta.

Root for: A 2-1 Columbus win. Gyasi Zardes scores the game winner with his left eyelid in the 90th minute. Atlanta fans are incredulous and frustrated that they lost to the second worst team in the East. Porter is incredulous and smug that he won. USMNT fans are incredulous and sad that Zardes is scoring, which means that he’s going to keep getting call-ups from Berhalter.

Montreal Impact vs. FC Cincinnati (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)

The Impact have been a fringe playoff team for the past five years and, shocker, they’re on the fringe of the playoffs again. Turns out that firing a mediocre but maybe good coach and replacing him with a mediocre but probably not good coach means your team is still decidedly mediocre.

Root for: A 1-0 Cincinnati win. Alvas Powell, who scored a freaking brace for the Jamaican national team scores a screamer like the Powell we all remember and love. Maxi Urruti, benched for this game, can only wistfully watch from the sidelines, reminiscing of better times when he, too, could actually put shots on target.

Orlando City SC vs. New England Revolution (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)

What’s weirder: the fact that New England has salvaged their burning dumpster fire start to the season (and hired Bruce Arena) to be in contention for the playoffs, or the fact that Orlando is still kind of relevant in the playoff race despite being basically a burning dumpster fire of an organization? Are these two of the most “peak MLS” teams in the league this season? Despite all of this weirdness, will this game be a stinker? Oh you know it will.

Root for: A 1-0 New England win. The only goal scored is a first minute own goal. The rest of the game is what can best be described as “two teams attempting to play good soccer but oh my god it hurts my eyes to watch”. Everyone who watches this game hates themselves for wasting two hours of their Saturday.

Philadelphia Union vs. LAFC (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)

Philly are fun to watch. LAFC were fun to watch, but recently have kind of been coasting through games. They clearly know that they’ve already got the Supporter’s Shield wrapped up, and have their star player currently on the shelf injured. Again, would sure be nice to see the juggernaut lose some steam going into the playoffs. DOOP it up, Union.

Root for: A 4-1 Union win. Ilsinho comes off the bench and does his best Carlos Vela impression, bagging a hat trick in the second half. As Bob Bradley exits the locker room after the game with a miserable expression, all he can think of is that “DOOP DOOP DOOP” song the Union play after every goal, because oh god did that game feature a lot of DOOPs.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo (Saturday, 7:00pm)

Vancouver’s season is done and dusted, and all they have to look forward to now is an offseason where they cut some dead weight and remake their roster… which is basically what their past three winters have been, so the fans are used to it at this point. Houston’s season is also basically over, which means this game could be pretty boring.

Root for: A 3-2 Vancouver win. This game could also be one of those weird MLS games where a whole bunch of crazy stuff happens. Vancouver gets a PK in the first minute, then Houston scores immediately right after. Literally nothing happens for the next seventy minutes, and then both teams trade goals for the final twenty. Davy Arnaud, interim Houston coach, bemoans the fact that his new prodigy and apprentice Andy McNamara is shown a red card. “He clearly is not a master yet…” Arnaud mutters under his breath.

Toronto FC vs. Colorado Rapids (Sunday, 2:00pm)

Colorado are kind of a good team again, which is only the third or fourth weirdest thing in MLS over the past month. If they continue this run, they maayyybee might be relevant in the playoff race, and we can’t have that, can we?

Root for: A 2-0 Toronto win. Despite the stout defense from Robin Fraser’s side, Toronto breaks through with a Michael Bradley screamer; because that’s apparently what he does now. Omar Gonzalez caps it off with his first goal in MLS since 2015. He was left unmarked on a corner kick because everybody forgot that Toronto signed him, so Colorado just thought he was some fan who ran onto the field.

Minnesota United vs. Real Salt Lake (Sunday, 2:30pm)

Probably the game that has the biggest implications for the playoff race in the West. I’m leaning to root for the Loons here, as the Timbers still have a game to play against them in Portland. But then again, Minnesota dropping points at home is good. But then again, RSL getting rare points on the road might not be good for Portland when comparing head to head records, so….

Root for: A 1-1 draw. A cop out, maybe, but a draw here helps Portland the most. Does it make it better that this game will totally feature Ozzie Alonso getting a red card, and Kyle Beckerman giving up a foul that leads directly to a goal? I hope so, dear reader, because that is so definitely going to happen.

Seattle Sounders vs. New York Red Bulls (Sunday, 3:00pm)

You know it’s a weird year in the East when the Red Bulls are only looking to barely make the playoffs, rather than challenge for the top seed or the Supporter’s Shield. And you know it’s a weird year in the West when Seattle looks to be just as likely to miss the playoffs (yeah, I said it) as they are to finish second.

Root for: A 2-0 Red Bulls win. Both Red Bulls goals come off of crosses that sail into the goal. None of Seattle’s crosses are met by Seattle players. Luis Robles has his best game in months, saving not one, but two penalties. Plus, it’s pouring rain the entire time. All of the Seattle fans have a very bad time.

LA Galaxy vs. Sporting Kansas City (Sunday, 7:00pm)

One half of my brain: “Okay, really, hear me out- I’m pretty confident Portland can beat DC, so the Galaxy winning isn’t bad here. That will effectively eliminate SKC from the playoffs, making the upcoming road game in KC more manageable.

Other half of my brain: “You absolute ninny. SKC winning would keep the Galaxy below the playoff line. Plus, we’ll be able to keep laughing at the Galaxy possibly missing the playoffs despite having Pavon, Dos Santos, and freaking Zlatan on their team. SKC will just lose later anyway, so they’re a non-factor.”

What I decided to write: Ehhhhhh better just root for a draw again.

Root for: A 2-2 draw. It is a rare game in which Zlatan actually cares and gives an effort. The problem is that the Galaxy backline doesn’t, so despite a first half brace from Ibrahimovic, LA gives up two late goals in the second half. Postgame, a lone brave SKC fan holds up a sign that reads “Zusi > Zlatan”. Zlatan, finally revealing himself to actually not be human, stares daggers at the fan, somehow causing the sign to spontaneously burst into flames.

Busy weekend in MLS, and a lot of words written above. Leave your thoughts on any of them below!