The Big Finish
Time and time again I have mentioned that the Portland Timbers have not had the season they had hoped for.
Really due to a lack of poor play in the months of June, July, and August, the Timbers once again find themselves on the outside looking in as the MLS Playoffs quickly approach. A select few Timber’s fans, some of the best of the business, have already started to look towards their 2013 season with the hope that a new coach and revitalized program will be enough to propel Portland to their first-ever MLS Playoffs.
But, before the rest of you shift your eyes away from the 2012 Timbers and await the 2013 version of Portland, I bid you to stick around for just one more game on Sunday. On Sunday, the Timbers will have the unique opportunity to walk away with at least some bragging rights at the end of a dismal 2012 MLS season. The game, whose importance cannot be stressed enough, will determine whether or not Portland will become the laughing stock of the MLS Western Conference.
I know that may seem a bit drastic of a claim for a game that really has no playoff implications (at least for the Timbers), but with how the Timbers have played this year, not coming away with anything in 2012 while being heralded as one of the top destinations for soccer would almost seem oxymoronical.
To be billed as a premier MLS destination and city you must not have a team that underachieves every year. Yes, I understand that the Timbers are just in their second MLS season, but when they are consistently compared to the Seattle Sounders, who have made the MLS playoffs in every one of their MLS seasons, winning big games and putting streaks together is a must.
Therefore, the Timbers need to find a way to win this game.
The Timbers must win this game, they cannot settle for a draw. Though a draw would give them nine points in the cup chase to tie the Sounders, the drubbing they received in Seattle was enough to give the Sounders an advantage in goal differential over the Timbers.
By beating the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Timbers will secure the 2012 Cascadia Cup and come away with at least something from a 2012 MLS season that has not gone their way.
Winning the Cascadia Cup would also do three things for the Timbers:
- Give them something to be proud about as well as northwest bragging rights
- Give momentum to a club that will need some heading into 2013
- Give them their first road victory of the season
No matter how bad the Timbers played at times this season, a win over the Whitecaps and a Cascadia Cup would allow them to assert bragging rights over the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps. Yes, that is how much the Cascadia Cup means to this region of the country.
Besides securing the cup and a stable amount of momentum heading into 2013, a win over the Whitecaps will also give Portland their first road win of the season, a feat they need to accomplish in this next game or they will only be respected when they play in friendly confines.
Though the Timbers have had a rough go of it in 2012, they can mitigate some of their pain with a big win over the Vancouver Whitecaps. Doing so would not only give the Timbers their first road win of the season but would also take away the Cascadia Cup from Seattle and enshrine it in Portland for the year to come.