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The Path to the Playoffs: This Week is the Worst

Match Gallery: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders Roscoe Myrick

This week is just the worst.

With the Portland Timbers currently sitting below the red line, hoping for some confluence of results that will allow them to overtake at least one of the teams above them on the table, this last, gameless week has been a drag for Timbers fans as we stew on the lost opportunities and plentiful injustices that have dogged the side this season.

The team has been hamstrung by injuries.

The referees have turned a curiously blind eye to the red card worthy offenses of the Timbers’ opponents.

The posts have turned from friend to foe.

All of that and more — are Seattle seriously going to finish above the Timbers on the table? — has been bouncing around the skull of every fan who roots for the Timbers since the side’s 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids two Saturdays ago.

And now, thanks to the woeful timing of last weekend’s international break, we are subjected to another full week of the same fretting and worries before the Timbers are once again back in action.

Come Sunday this long pause between matches will finally be broken and the Timbers will take off on the week-long sprint that will close out their season. The Timbers will host the Rapids for their final home match of the MLS season, then three days later CD Saprissa come to town to close out the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, and then finally the Timbers will cross the finish line on the following Sunday when they finish off both the regular season and the Cascadia Cup on the road against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Three games in eight days, all of which the Timbers must win if they want to have any chance at further glory.

4. Real Salt Lake

45 points, 32 games played

vs. Sporting Kansas City, at Seattle Sounders

RSL’s upcoming game against SKC will be a pivotal one when it comes to determining the playoff standings in the West; a higher seed is still on offer for RSL, but they will need to take full points against SKC if they want to make a run at the LA Galaxy. A tie in that fixture, however, will leave both sides open to being passed up by the Timbers, and a loss for the home side would be particularly devastating as they close out the season with a road game against the resurgent Sounders.

5. Seattle Sounders

44 points, 31 games played

vs. Houston Dynamo, at FC Dallas, vs. Real Salt Lake

With two home games that are decidedly winnable in addition to the slim possibility of taking points off Dallas on the road, it would take some serious stumbling now for the Sounders to fall out of the playoff race. Unfortunately, this might just put Timbers fans in the distasteful position of needing to root for a Sounders win on the final day of the season, something that no letter can forgive.

6. Sporting Kansas City

43 points, 32 games played

at Real Salt Lake, vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Despite RSL’s vulnerability, SKC are the side that the Timbers are most likely to pass up if they can somehow make the playoffs. SKC are likely to take three points off the Earthquakes in their season finale, so it will be up to the Timbers to take full points if they want to have any chance at once again knocking Kansas City out of the playoffs (even if it is in a more perfunctory fashion this time around).

7. Portland Timbers

41 points , 32 games played

vs. Colorado Rapids, at Vancouver Whitecaps

That the Timbers went on the road and lost to the Rapids should come as no surprise when once compares the Timbers’ road record to the Rapids’ record at home. When you reverse the positions, however, there should be every expectation that the Timbers — the second best home team in MLS behind only the Rapids — should win the day at Providence Park. Not only is this game a must-win if the Timbers want to claw their way back above the red line, it is a should-win, no matter who the Timbers are facing.