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Last Match Recap

The Timbers won at Real Salt Lake!

Caleb Porter’s astute use of a Jason Kries-style diamond formation on the pitch where it became famous, and Adam Larsen Kwarasey’s utter Rimando-ing of Portland’s now-once bête-noir held up Fanendo Adi’s 54’ PK, en route to a 1-0 win at Rio Tinto.

What does it mean?

This is where it gets really interesting. 

All of a sudden, the Timbers are a point out of fourth. Sporting KC regained their game-in-hand, so San Jose and/or Colorado need to do Portland a solid this week. It’s easy to look back and wonder what a point here or there would have meant to the Timbers’ seeding, but heading into this weekend’s tricky away fixture, Portland is conceivably one point away from clinching a post-season birth.

Next Up:

Tricky is actually a kind adjective for this one; at Salt Lake is tricky, so is at Dallas or at Sporting. Traveling to StubHub Center can feel more like a quixotic quest for points that don’t exist. The thing is, Portland has had success against Bruce Arena’s group here in the Rose City. But down there? That’s a whole different story.

Those other bugaboo away days, like Dallas, Colorado, or Rio Tinto, all of which Portland has conquered, pale in comparison. Adjusting to odd conditions like heat, altitude, or a lucky hot goalkeeper are part-and-parcel MLS growing pains.

Keep in mind, Portland lost 5-0 in LA back in July before LA added Steven Gerrard and Giovanni Dos Santos. Yikes. Robbie Keane and Gyasi Zardes are a load to handle as it is, let alone when you add two pedigreed, successful European transfers, one of whom is definitely probably in his prime. 

Winning in a place where you have never won, against a team with one home loss, would be the biggest statement win in Portland’s MLS history.

Water Cooler Number: 13

Adam Kwarasey earned his record-tying 13th clean sheet on Wednesday and now has two matches to eclipse Donovan Ricketts’ mark. At the other end of the pitch, Fanendo Adi’s 13th goal moved him past Diego Valeri’s 12 in 2013, setting an MLS-era record. 

Opposing player to watch: Robbie Keane

That’s the thing about LA: they keep adding big names, but unquestionably their most dangerous player is their Irish captain. In the 5-0 debacle, Keane scored a goal and added two assists. With 57 league goals in 3 years, the 35-year old striker is showing no signs of slowing down.

Timber to watch: Nat Borchers

After putting in a MOTM-worthy performance at his old club, RSL owner Dell Loy Hansen was moved to publically express how much he regrets letting the Bearded One go. It’s that kind of quality we have all expected and (for the most part) seen from Nat during his first season in Green. As Portland travels to it’s one true House of Horrors, Nat (and his English partner) needs to command the defense and protect the goal at all costs.

A point is possible, and would be enormous. 

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