I fell in love again last night.
I fell in love with the bartender who called me “pretty lady” during happy hour before the game. I fell in love with they Arsenal boys in 210 and the knitting ladies of 108. I fell in love with the ladies who sat to my left and right and the gentleman who sat behind me and bought me drinks. I fell in love with Timbers Jim and Joey and the guy in the ADA section in front of us with the flashing disco lights on his chair whose name I do not know.
I fell in love with billowing smoke and waving flags and the songs we’ve sung a thousand times.
I fell in love with the movement on the field, with Caleb Porter’s cheeky footwork on the touchline, with every bit of Diego Valeri.
With two games left in the regular season, I’m lovestruck.
Lovestruck, but not blind to the reality of the Timbers’ situation.
Two games left and hovering near the red line, hoping another team drops points.
The social media firestorm today was, as we all know, focused on a game the Timbers won’t play.
Vancouver, currently on 43 points and nestled just below the Timbers (45 points) in the Western Conference standings, will travel to play Seattle, a team that’s safely tucked into a playoff berth and currently at the top of the division. With a win, Vancouver overtakes the Timbers’ current above-the-red-line position and retains the Cascadia Cup.
I like Vancouver. It’s a great city. I like Canadians. The Southsiders I’ve had the pleasure of meeting have been nothing but delightful, even that one that I hold responsible for my February bout with food poisoning. If the Cup can’t come home to Portland, I’d rather it stay in Canadaland where I know it will be safe and properly looked after.
But a Whitecaps win digs a hole for the Timbers to (again) climb out of in order to secure a playoff spot.
A Seattle friend (yes, I have those) asked me to explain why Portland folks would be so opposed to even remotely, quietly, privately cheering for a Seattle win.
It’s complicated. Some feel this hatred of Seattle so deeply that, despite a Seattle win increasing Portland’s playoff hopes, there’s no possible way they could or would cheer for it.
I can’t get behind that. It isn’t because of any deeply-rooted hatred of Seattle. It’s because I hate math.
More specifically, I hate late-season, point-scraping math wherein we desperately need to take every point AND desperately hope that at least one of our rivals drops points.
Win outright. Win early. Win often. Don’t hang your hopes on another team’s results.
If the points fall in such a way that the Timbers find themselves in the playoffs, this will all be forgotten again. We’ll be told that it doesn’t really matter how we got there. Sliding in ass-backward counts just the same as finishing the season at the top of the league.
The Timbers were nine games into the season before notching their first win. Nine games, two full months into the season. Five draws and three losses came before game nine, a 3-2 win over DC United, the only Eastern Conference team to have clinched a playoff spot thus far.
So, I don’t care that the Timbers front office thought it was a good idea to give us permission to root for our rivals. Honestly, I thought it was cute, if misguided. Nobody’s perfect.
Regardless of tomorrow’s result, it’s possible that we won’t know for sure what our postseason looks like until after the Timbers’s final regular season match on the 25th. I need a hug.
Friday, October 10
Vancouver at Seattle, 7 p.m.
Friday, October 17
Real Salt Lake at Portland, 7 p.m.
Saturday, October 18
Vancouver at San Jose, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, October 25
Portland at Dallas, 5:30 p.m.
Colorado at Vancouver, 7 p.m.