With their placement in the playoffs resting on one final away game the Timbers still only have two road wins on the year. Let's take a look at just how big the Timbers' improvement has been on the road since joining MLS in 2011.
The Timbers on the Road
2011: 2 wins - 9 losses - 6 ties, 15th overall by away record
2012: 1 - 12 - 4, 19th
2013: 2 - 4 - 10, 10th
The Timbers have a made a marked improvement on the road when it comes to limiting the team's number of losses. However, the lack of actual wins on the road has plagued the team this year as the Timbers have failed to exceed their previous hig for road wins in a season despite competing for the Supporters' Shield.
In relation to the road performances of the rest of the teams in MLS, the Timbers have achieved their best position so far, but still have fewer road points per game than half of MLS.
Away Points Per Game
With only sixteen games played in 2013, the Timbers could stay at 1.00 with a tie against Chivas USA on Saturday, while a win would put them at 1.12 and a loss at .94.
League Away PPG
The league has, in recent years, stabilized around 1 point per game played for away sides. There are still outliers for this, like most of the Supporters' Shield winners below, but the fact remains that the Timbers have been a remarkably average team on the road this year.
Supporters' Shield Winner Away PPG
2012: 1.76 - San Jose Earthquakes
Road wins are not the only key to winning the Shield, as Seattle showed in 2011, but they certainly help. If the Timbers do manage to come out on top of the league table after this weekend, they will be the worst road team to win the Supporters' Shield. In 2002 the Galaxy only managed 16 road points, but they came from 14 road games rather than the current 17.
After being held to only ten goals on the road during each of their first two years, the Timbers have already doubled that output in 2011. Combined with a stingier defense, although still not as tight as their home record, the Timbers have made obvious strides on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, better than bad has not put the Timbers in quite the position that one would expect for a team of their standing on the table.
The Timbers, and Caleb Porter in particular, have insisted that playing on the road should be just the same as playing at home. The team, however, continues to be at a significant disadvantage when playing on the road, particularly in comparison to their stellar home form (2.11 points per game).
We have not pinpointed why the Timbers continue to struggle on the road, but the fact that they have done so can hardly be denied. Why do you think that the Timbers have done so much better at home since joining MLS?