KeyBank Match-up of the Match: Timbers Home Form vs. Toronto Road Form
After a dream home start with thrilling victories and rollicking match environments, the Portland Timbers have not won an MLS regular season game at the raucous JELD-WEN Field since May’s taut 1-0 victory of the Columbus Crew.
To some, it may appear the bloom is off the rose.
The second half of the season now looms with more road games than home and the Timbers are at a key turning point in their hunt to make the playoffs. Saturday evening’s opponent in Toronto FC (8:00 pm PT, ROOT SPORTS, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM), presents a completely different squad than the one Portland faced on a chilly afternoon in Ontario back in March when they lost 2-0.
Despite that home win, The Reds have gone all season without winning a game on the road (0-7-4) and yet they too, remain in the hunt for the playoffs. Their near top-to-bottom restructuring of their roster may seem chaotic to some but it also shows a growing imperative on their side to remain competitive (not to mention unlock the key to Aron Winter's Dutch 4-3-3 formation).
Though the Timbers also made a small tweak to their squad last week in acquiring Houston’s Lovel Palmer and Mike Chabala in exchange for Adam Moffat and allocation money, the endgame of the playoffs remain ever important.
To get there, the Timbers must reignite that home field form they so handily enjoyed at the beginning of the season. That quest for those improved results at JELD-WEN Field brings us to Timbers soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up of the Match.
KeyBank Match-up of the Match
For the Timbers, though they haven’t won at home since May, they’ve remained competitive in each of their league matches in Stumptown. Colorado, New York, and Seattle were all on the ropes in the second half of matches and were it not for a few late lapses, the Timbers would be sitting pretty with 9 points out of those matches.
While the Timbers won’t want to dwell on mistakes or missed opportunities, remembering the magic combination of verve and fearless play that were key elements of their early home wins over Chicago and FC Dallas could be a wise trip down Memory Lane. Feeding and channeling the support from the North End and throughout the stadium could go a long way to keeping Toronto on their heels.
The Reds will be desperate too on Saturday. Not just to prove they can win on the road, but also to prove that their recent moves have them moving in a positive direction. Their defense has been in flux all season and they’re no stranger to energetic crowds given their own raucous environment at BMO Field.
As an added incentive, should the Timbers be able to bottle up that magic home field form in an elixir, they can hold on to the vintage to help propel them into Wednesday against the Western Conference leading LA Galaxy.
First things first though: Bring back that early season home form to beat Toronto.