I’ve been having this recurring dream since before the Timbers’ last trip to Vancouver that when it came down to this, the last match of the regular season, it would be Chivas that would knock us out of contention for everything.
Well, we’ve secured a playoff match and there’s nothing they can do about that. So, we’re cool, right?
No. We’re very definitely not cool.
With the RSL win over Chivas last night, PTFC sits in second place in the Western Conference, a fine place to be when one considers where we were at this point last year. But there is the potential for so much more. A win against the goats on Saturday puts us back on top. And a loss by New York and a loss or a draw from SKC combined with that potential win, well….
Yeah. So Chivas. It doesn’t happen unless the Timbers take all three points Saturday from Chivas. On the road. In a stadium in which the Timbers have never won.
Keys to success for Chivas? A healthy Dan Kennedy seemed essential, but last night showed us that even their number two keeper has some skills. And they have Torres, little Cubo Torres, who is a force. And Boca, who seems to finally be regaining his stride. And rookie Matt Fondy continues to be sharp as a late-game sub.
And I’m terrified. Of Chivas. That’s how weird this season has been.
The Timbers will play this game, against a club that’s lodged firmly at the bottom of our conference, with everything on the line.
Everything. A loss drops us from the Supporters Shield race but it’s the potential for injury that’s driven my blood pressure ever higher. With Valeri and Urruti currently listed as questionable (though that may be updated tomorrow) and Ricketts needing a short nap around the 70th minute of every match, I’m scared that even the slightest injury to one of our expected starters could mean a shift in momentum, something I don’t want to see going into the playoffs.
So, let’s talk about expectations for a minute.
The Timbers are in the playoffs for the first time in their MLS era. That’s a pretty big deal. Few of us expected to see them there. And even fewer of us expected they would still be in the race for the Supporters Shield with one game left to play in the regular season.
I’ll raise my hand and say that I want to win it all. I want that Shield. I want that Cup. I want them.
And, if it turns out that both land in different cities this year, I’ll be momentarily disappointed. But, more than that, I will be content with a season well-played.
A new coach, a team that saw incredible turnover in the offseason, a run deep into the Open Cup tournament and now a playoff spot. That’s a lot for one year.
So, take a deep breath and remember what an amazing ride this has been.