Since the Portland Timbers 15-game unbeaten streak ended a month ago, things have gone south in the Pacific Northwest.
The Timbers have won just twice in their last eight games, both against teams below the playoff line, and have most recently lost 4-1 to the Houston Dynamo, a side that had previously won just twice since May. After the game, Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese didn't hold back in his evaluation of his team's performance.
"It wasn't good enough," Savarese said Saturday. "These type of performances, it's going to be tough to go far. We had a game in control, we found the goal early, we were moving the ball well, but then we became overconfident. Too comfortable in the match and then we allowed them to be able to find spaces."
Portland took the lead in the 9th minute through an Alejandro Fuenmayor own goal, but then conceded four unanswered in a disappointing performance as the Timbers' playoff place is written more in pencil than ink at this stage.
"We just broke apart," Savarese said. "There were moments in which we showed a little bit of life, but we'll have to talk to them. I'm not sure if it's the heat, but we didn't look like ourselves."
Their attack has been dulled of late. Diego Valeri has just a goal and no assists in his last six games while Samuel Armenteros has the same output in his last seven. The defense has struggled, conceding an uncharacteristic 15 goals in their last eight games.
Looking at their remaining schedule, it's imperative the Timbers get back to form if they are to make the playoffs. They are just four points ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps for the final playoff place and are level on games played. The rivals meet on Decision Day at BC Place for what could be a loser-go-home match. Prior to that, they twice play Real Salt Lake, who are currently a point ahead of Portland.
"We have to be better," Savarese said.
That starts Wednesday night against Columbus as the Timbers search for their elusive old form.