Portland Timbers Best In The West

After a brief hiatus for World Cup Qualifiers, in which Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe played a key role for the US, the Timbers jumped back into action last weekend on the road against one of the top teams in the league, New York City FC. You may be sick of me constantly talking about the merits of midfielder Diego Valeri, but I’m not going to stop—and that’s because Valeri isn’t showing any signs of stopping.

Valeri secured the 1-0 road win for the Timbers with a 44’ goal after Timbers forward Darren Mattocks picked the pocket of NYCFC’s Andrea Pirlo and calmly played a square pass to Valeri, who expertly finished at the near post. The goal marked Valeri’s 7th goal in seven straight matches, tying an MLS record for most consecutive matches with a goal. Valeri now has 17 goals on the season, second only to NYCFC’s striker David Villa (19), who did not play against Portland due to an injury he suffered during training with the Spanish national team.

The victory against NYCFC pushed the Timbers past the Seattle Sounders for the top spot in the Western Conference with only five matches remaining in the regular season. Portland has now won three of their last five matches and continues to prove they are dangerous against even the most formidable opponents. Their goal heading into the final stretch is to finish as high in the West as possible, setting themselves up for the most advantageous playoff position.

“There’s a fine line between confidence and complacency,” coach Caleb Porter said, “and so it’s very important that we stay hungry, that we stay focused and on edge. We still have a lot of work to do… if we want to get one of those one or two seeds and avoid the knockout. At the very least a three, four, which gives us a home game in the knockout.”

Porter pointed to the fact that in their 2015 MLS Cup year, the Timbers entered the playoffs in the number three seed in the Western Conference. “This year the motivation is to go for the top, and to not be satisfied with just getting in, but making sure we get in in a good position to have the best chance to make a run and win it.”

Diego Valeri has his sights set a bit higher as the end of the season approaches. His goal is the top the Western Conference table and the number one seed that comes with it. Valeri spoke after training, stating: “It’s possible, so we have to think about that, always looking up.”

Even with the long break between games, the Timbers were still without three of their key players due to injuries. Captain Liam Ridgewell was still out with a quad injury, but was training with the team prior to the NYCFC match, so there is the chance that he will be back in the lineup Saturday on the road against Real Salt Lake.

Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and striker Fanendo Adi are the other two notable injuries that the Timbers have been dealing with for some time now. Gleeson is back in training, but has not been mentioned as returning to the starting 11 yet. Adi is still out with a hamstring injury and has not returned to training.

The Timbers will play three more matches before the month is up and the league goes into a short break for World Cup Qualifiers at the beginning of October. These games are at Real Salt Lake on Saturday the 16th, home against Orlando City on Sunday the 24th, and at San Jose on Saturday the 30th. The Timbers will return to the Providence Park pitch for their final two matches of the season. The first is against DC United on Sunday, October 15th. The final match of the regular season is against Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps (who currently sit in third place in the West) Sunday, October 22nd.

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About Doug Mackar 21 Articles
Doug Mackar is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and attended The Ohio State University. He is a novelist, writing under the name K. M. Douglas, and works in marketing/copywriting as well as journalism. He is a stand-up comic and performs regularly at the Tacoma Comedy Club. If you only remember one thing about him, though, he'd like that to be that even while rooting for the Cavs team showcasing Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty and Mark Price, he was hitting the courts of Cleveland in his Drexler jersey. This is, of course, because he hopes to make you forget the fact that he is a lifelong Cleveland Browns fan. At least you know he can take a joke. Go Browns! You can catch him on Instagram @Hieronaut.