Portland's playoff hopes on line as Chivas USA visit
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers will get a shot at controlling their postseason fate against Chivas USA on Wednesday (11 pm ET, watch LIVE online). The match is the second consecutive at home at home, kicking off a week that could make or break the expansion team’s inaugural season.
Just two points separate the sixth-place Goats and the seventh-place Timbers in the Western Conference. Meanwhile, Chivas are just a point from the final wildcard playoff spot currently held by the New York Red Bulls.
The Timbers gained two points on the Rojiblancos with a 2-1 victory this past Saturday over the Vancouver Whitecaps. On the same night, Chivas were held to a draw against the Colorado Rapids.
“We all know how big the game is,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “We know the home games are drying up now. And we haven’t proved that we’ve been good enough consistently on the road. So we know that these home games are vitally important to get three points. And then let’s see what we can do on the road.”
Playing amidst the pandemonium of JELD-WEN Field, the Timbers have posted a 7-4-2 record. The road, however, has seen Portland play to a 1-8-3 record.
The Timbers’ second match of the week, Saturday against D.C. United, is on the road. United are wedged right between Chivas and Portland in the wild-card standings.
“We need to play well to get the points,” Spencer said.
The Chivas match will mark the Timbers' fourth game in 10 days. The schedule may have taken its toll, as Portland will likely be without Mamadou “Futty” Danso. Danso was one of the defenders who helped keep Whitecaps forward Eric Hassli off the score sheet in last weekend’s victory, but he tweaked his hamstring later in the match and had an MRI on Monday.
Lead defender Eric Brunner and midfielder Darlington Nagbe should be rested after getting the Vancouver game off.
Chivas will feature forward Juan Pablo Ángel, acquired last week from the LA Galaxy, in a rejuvenated attack. Ángel scored in Chivas’ 2-2 tie Saturday against Colorado, the Colombian’s debut with the Goats.
“A dangerous player,” Spencer said of Ángel. “Obviously, goals haven’t come as much as they wanted this year. But he’s been a great player in this league for a couple teams now.”
Spencer said his team gained a measure of confidence with their victory against Cascadia rivals Vancouver and expects an even more vibrant atmosphere Wednesday.
“The thing is, we have to come out with that same intensity,” he said.