As May comes to a close and ends on a high note with the win over D.C. United this week, it is time to look at what awaits the Portland Timbers in the month of June. If playoffs are to become a reality then the push to get back above the red line is needed now more than ever.
With the Portland Timbers ranked 9th in the Western conference taking some points this month could move the team past mid-table.
As it stands, Portland is ranked ninth in the Western Conference; only two points separates the Timbers and the sixth place San Jose Earthquakes. Ninth place to sixth only has a two-point gap and 4th is only four points away. Ninth may seem like a huge hole for the team at the moment, but the Timbers remain viable playoff candidates for the foreseeable future.
The first game, which actually falls on May 30th, today, against the Colorado Rapids is an away game for the Timbers, but is against the 2nd worst team in MLS and the worst team in the Western Conference. Still, just three points separate the two teams.
Colorado's record is 2 wins, 3 losses, and 7 draws going into this game, while Portland maintains a record of 4 wins, 5 losses, and 4 draws. Portland has played one more game currently. While there are no 'free' games in MLS, on paper this is the most likely match for the Timbers to bring home all three points. A win here gives the Timbers a solid chance to move up a few spots.
This same week Houston faces off against the weakest team in the league currently, NYC FC, so they will likely hold their spot above the Timbers, but Real Salt Lake faces LA Galaxy which will be tough to take points from. Sporting KC takes on the FC Dallas, another team that will be tough to pull points from, and the Earthquakes will face Toronto in a game which will likely have them as the underdogs. In the end, this week will shape up to a potentially large shake up rankings-wise for the Western Conference and the Timbers.
The next week, Portland takes on one of the current top teams in the league: the New England Revolution. The game will be held in Portland so home field advantage will be on the Timbers side. This game will be a tough task regardless.
New England's current record is 5 wins, 3 losses, and 5 ties, putting them in second place in the Eastern Conference behind only D.C. United, who Portland just beat last week. Again, this is winnable without a doubt, but admittedly a tougher week for the Timbers.
This week Real Salt lake will battle it out with the Whitecaps in a tough match, SKC will take on Western Conference leaders Seattle in a tough test, and the Earthquakes will take on FC Dallas. This leaves all teams in this part of the table with tough matches but gives Portland probably the largest chance to move up the standings.
This match will pit the Timbers against the last team to massively defeat them, the Dynamo. This time the two teams will meet at Providence park and hopefully the Timbers, with Valeri back in the side, will be able to grab a few points against the Texas team.
Right now both teams share the exact same record, so a win here will go a long way toward passing Houston on the table. Other teams have Open Cup matches this week so there won't be a lot of movement middle table.
The last game of the month pits Portland against league leaders and Cascadian rivals the Seattle Sounders. Seattle currently sits at 7 wins, 3 losses and 2 draws.
The last time the two met the score was a narrow 1-0 win for Seattle at home. This time Portland gets a chance at home so maybe a point or three will come from this. Seattle is on a roll and has the best striking link up in the league currently, but defensively have holes Portland can take advantage of.
For the most part, this month of matches leaves the Timbers with plenty of opportunities to take the lead in the rankings. It begins with not losing the easier games and minimizing damages in the tougher ones. A heavy dose of Valeri and Johnson will be needed in the coming weeks to turn the tide, but its not the toughest hill to climb and at the end of the month a positive push should be the result.