Last Match Recap:
A first half strike from Diego Valeri gave the Timbers an early advantage over their Cascadian rivals Vancouver, but the Whitecaps found an equalizer 12 minutes into the second half, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw.
As is often the case in derby games, the final score doesn’t tell the whole story. It opened with a fantastic Timbers Army Tifo. The relatively tepid boxscore of a 1-1 draw with goals on either side of halftime is a thin veil for the drama that unfolded throughout the 90 minutes. Near misses on both sides, a massive save, a game-saver from Nat Borchers, and two red cards meant that this game only ended up even because time ran out.
What does it mean?
In the tightly-packed Western Conference, a point gained can still drop you in the standings. With the draw, Portland does just that, falling into a tie for sixth place with unfriendly rivals to the north, Seattle, who lost at home to the last-place Colorado Rapids.
The Timbers remain a mere three points off the top of the division and overall Supporters Shield standings.
Speaking of being three points off the top, the Timbers travel to first-place FC Dallas on Saturday. A win, obviously, would propel the Timbers into first. Unless LA, Vancouver, or Sporting Kansas City win.
After going winless in six matches, Dallas have now won 4 in a row, conceding one single goal in that stretch. As the Timbers have learned, a hot streak can propel you straight to the top of the standings.
Water Cooler Stat: Prior to a 2-0 win in Dallas on the last day of the 2014 season, the Timbers had never won at Toyota Stadium in the regular season. That win, an Open Cup victory, and a 1-1 draw (both in 2013) constitute all of Portland’s success in Dallas to date.
Opposing player to watch: Fabiàn Castillo. The skilled Colombian midfielder is one of the most underrated offensive threats in the league. His 8 goals and 6 assists put him fourth among midfielders in goals created (goals + assists).
Timber to watch: Alvas Powell. Back from the Jamaican National Team, Powell is one of Caleb Porter’s most dynamic and versatile attacking options. Dallas plays a high-tempo offense but can be caught on the counter-attack. Alvas is an underrated defender, and his ability to reign in a player like Castillo and turn the momentum back the other way will be critical to Portland’s success.