Despite finishing top of the MLS Western Conference, Portland Timbers were eliminated from the Play-Offs by Houston Dynamo over the course to two legs. Caleb Porter’s side was more than a match for their opponents but was undone by two second half goals which put an end to their season.
The 2015 MLS Cup winners weren’t able to replicate their success from two years ago but can be considered unlucky to have crashed out at Providence Park. Injuries have hampered them during the second half of the season and certainly didn’t help matters during the two-legged match-up with Houston Dynamo. Wilmer Cabrera’s side was comfortably the weakest team in the MLS during the previous campaign but the Colombian has overseen a huge change of fortunes in Texas and they will be quietly confident of their chances going into the Western Conference Final. They face Seattle Sounders over two legs, for which there are odds of 7.00 when betting online on Houston Dynamo to achieve MLS Cup success. They face stiff competition from Toronto FC and the aforementioned Sounders but they were also chalked up as the outsiders to beat Portland Timbers.
Caleb Porter’s side ended the regular season with an eye-catching 2-1 success over Vancouver Whitecaps to move them top of the Western Conference and they chalked up an 8-3-2 record from their final 13 matches. Despite early elimination, there were many positives to be taken from the campaign and they can be confident of bouncing back.
The off-season will provide the club with the opportunity to nurse a number of key players back to fitness and ensure their return for the beginning of 2018 campaign. With injuries mounting up, questions have to be asked of the medical and sports science department whilst Porter will need to decide whether some of his more injury-prone squad members are worth retaining. Liam Ridgewell may be extremely popular at the club and even have had a sushi roll named after him but he played just 15 games across the course of the season. Fernando Adi missed the last three months of the campaign through injury while defender Gbenga Arokoyo was ruled out before the games even got underway.
The fans are clearly behind the players and remained behind to show their appreciation for an entertaining nine months of soccer. Following the defeat, Porter declared “In the five years I’ve been here, this is one of my most enjoyable years…” admitting that the players had given their all and been extremely enjoyable to work with. The coach’s positivity gives fans hope ahead of next season and if a number of key players can remain at the club and stay injury-free, the 2018 campaign could easily be a triumphant one. They matched their record of 15 wins across the course of the season and despite being left short-handed by injury, they competed admirably throughout. Timbers fans have plenty of reasons to be positive during the off-season and there is little doubt that Caleb Porter can help his side bounce back and go one better in twelve months time.