After a hard fought, closely packed season struggling through the Western Conference, the Portland Timbers are pouring it on at just the right time for their run through the MLS Cup Playoffs. Now, however, the team has a week off for the international break before their biggest test to date, the Conference Final match up against FC Dallas, so lets take a moment to reflect on the Timbers' two home and away victories in the playoffs to date; both of which came against the Timbers' Cascadian rivals, the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Portland Timbers finished the season on a high, powering past the Sounders and LA Galaxy in the standings and snatching the top spot in the West from Real Salt Lake to set up a playoff series against the Sounders. The playoffs are never boring in MLS, but the Cascadian rivalry between the Sounders and the Timbers took it to another level as the Timbers ran out the 5-3 winners on aggregate, winning both legs of the series.
Leg 1: Timbers 2, Sounders 1
Leg 2: Timbers 3, Sounders 2
The moment is still fresh in the minds of Timbers fans, but let's break it down anyway: after the tightest finish to the Western Conference since the Timbers joined MLS, the Timbers surged up the table only to find themselves held just outside the top two spots on the table -- and the knockout round bye that comes with them -- by the superior goal differential of the Whitecaps. After a crazy penalty kick shootout in the one-off play-in game against Sporting Kansas City, the Timbers took control in their series against the Whitecaps, holding the ball and grinding the Whitecaps down over the course of two legs for 2-0 aggregate win despite playing 120 minutes more than their opponents in the playoffs.
Leg 1: Timbers 0, Whitecaps 0
Leg 2: Timbers 2, Whitecaps 0
Oh, and it may to have been a match against a team from Cascadia, but just in case you want to relive that crazy penalty kick shoot out against SKC, you can find it here.