Friday, August 11, 2017

Prediction Thread Week 23 - Portland Timbers vs. Toronto FC

The Timbers schedule gets tricky over the next few weeks, starting with TFC
The Portland Timbers showed something truly amazing in their win over the Los Angeles Galaxy back on August 6 in the friendly confines of Providence Park. After meandering for months trying to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of the team, fans got to see Timbers Coach Caleb Porter's version of a first choice lineup - and everyone noticed the results. Granted, there are plenty of areas of concern - Liam Ridgewell has to leave the match with a head injury after he just returned to the lineup, Roy Miller's play at left back is still a work in progress, and Jake Gleeson makes too many unforced errors - but Portland was able to hold it together and post a feel good result.

The offense seems to have found their legs with Sebastian Blanco, Fanendo Adi, Darlington Nagbe and Diego Valeri all providing quality support for themselves and each other, but in some irony, it was the defense that provided 2 of the Timbers' 3 goals on the afternoon. Adi ended up leaving the Galaxy match with a hamstring injury to be replaced by Darren Mattocks, but the Timbers offense didn't lose that much as Mattocks made life miserable for the Galaxy backline on several runs. Portland's challenges now get a bit interesting over the next few weeks courtesy of their schedule, and so the status of Adi and Ridgewell will be really important to determine as quickly as possible.
Portland travels to Toronto FC for a match on August 12, then Portland gets a compressed 2 match homestand with the Red Bulls on August 18 followed by Colorado on August 23. Portland then makes 3 road trips over 3 different weekends - August 27 to Flounder land, September 9 to Yankee Stadium and NYC FC, and September 16 to Real Salt Lake - before getting 3 of their last 4 matches of 2017 at home before the postseason. The travel will be interesting to see how Porter rotates the side - especially next week with 3 matches in roughly 11 days - but Portland will get 13 days of break before heading to the Big Apple.

Diego Valeri is in his own world. We're just lucky to be a small part of it.
While the miles and fixture schedule provide some challenges, the Timbers also have some ability to help their postseason chances. Of the remaining 10 matches on the docket, 5 of them are against Eastern Conference sides - meaning that any points gained here are essentially bonus points. When Portland plays a Western Conference side, points for them (or points dropped) directly impact the other teams they are chasing for 1 of the 6 postseason berths. However, in playing so many dates with the East, the Timbers could have a difficult result which won't have as much affect on their standings in the West. This is a key point to remember, especially since the Timbers still play 3 of the current 6 East playoff sides (TFC, Red Bulls, NYC FC) and 1 other, Orlando City, is sitting in 7th. While D.C. United is sitting on the bottom of the East, we have seen plenty of situations in Major League Soccer where anybody can beat anyone. It's important for the Timbers to get as many points as they can especially considering the 5 matches remaining against the West are sides that Portland are competing with for the playoffs: Colorado (currently 11th), Seattle (tied with PDX in 2nd), Real Salt Lake (currently 8th), San Jose (currently 6th) and Vancouver (sitting in 7th). The Rapids have been feisty at points and Salt Lake & San Jose have proven to be tough places to get points (Portland travels to both), so there is no match for the Timbers to really overlook if they have playoff aspirations.

The challenge starts with Toronto FC, one of 4 MLS sides that still are undefeated in their home matches (8 wins and 3 draws in 11 home dates). While their offense has been rather impressive with Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco scoring goals, they are far from alone in their influence on the offense, as Toronto has 20 players on their first team roster with at least 1 goal or assist. Victor Vazquez, Justin Morrow, Jonathan Osorio and Michael Bradley have been solid in the midfield with contributions to feed their main scorers, but honestly, Toronto FC has simply been balanced all the way around. Combined with that is a defense that has been better than expected in front of goalkeepers Alex Bono or Clint Irwin, and TFC Coach Greg Vanney has plenty of available defenders to use. Conceding just 23 goals in 23 games played puts TFC on the top of the East in that category, and if you expand it to the full league, only Sporting Kansas City has been better in terms of goals scored against. Portland has certainly done well in difficult venues, having already drawn at Sporting KC and Houston (2 of the other undefeated MLS sides at home). So with what appears to be a crazy good offense and unsung defense, what do the prognositicators think about this match?

Kenny the cat reacts to the news of Liam Ridgewell's injury

Rick: Toronto FC 2, Portland Timbers 1 

I am sure the Timbers will welcome temperatures in the mid 70s when the take on Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday. Sebastian Giovinco (11), and Jozy Altidore (9) lead the scoring for Toronto, Diego Valeri (12), and Fanendo Adi (10) for the Timbers. After a 6-game winning streak earlier in the season, Toronto's form has faded a little but they've still collected 9 points from their last 6 games, coincidentally, the same number as the Timbers. The Timbers (W0 D1 L3 F4 A8) have never won on the road in Toronto; the task of recording their first win being made more difficult by the accumulated card suspension of Roy Miller and the questionable availability of Liam Ridgewell (quad) and Fanendo Adi (tweaked hamstring).

This game is really easy. I mean, I have predicted right 2 matches in a row


Lucy: Timbers 3, Toronto FC 3

Lucy can certainly be the one crowing in the prediction realm after correctly predicting the results for Timbers - Dynamo and Timbers - Galaxy, and her thoughts were again provided in her very confident and direct manner. After asking her about a winner, she didn't say anything. When asked about goals, she meowed 3 times for each side indicating the draw for this week. Honestly, this would be a pretty good result, but will the Timbers give Lucy the trifecta?

We need some Atomic Ant killer. I'm looking at you, Ridgy.

Mark: Timbers 2, Toronto FC 2

Picking games in MLS is difficult, however, generally, the home team wins half the time. So there is a pattern: a draw 25 percent of the time and the road team wins the other 25 percent. This is how 538 lists the odds. So this time, the odds statistically are tilted a little more in Toronto's favor: Portland 18%; Toronto FC 61%, Draw 21%. The pattern of this year has been highly unpredictable. So the pattern of the season has been highly unpredictable. That is up until last week. And now roll north of the boarder to face arguably the best side in MLS who sport many legitimate superstars in Sebastian Giovinco, Altidore and the Bald One.  Timbers have a daunting task indeed. The odds above look fair. It will take a herculean effort to get the three points. I am calling this a draw against my better judgement and that will be courtesy of an Adi brace.  And I will add this haiku.

Modern Thievery
Steal a point while out played
Toronto away

I'm sticking with my usual thought that nobody will score anything.

Spot: scoreless draw

The queen of the scoreless draws strikes again this week, as her interview was pretty typical Spot. Not one sound, not one noise, not one meow, not a peep whatsoever. And I can confirm that she was totally awake because she was purring and her eyes were open. Spot just feels that nobody is going to figure out how to put a ball into the net, and honestly, she could actually be right this time.

I'm a good boy, but I don't like the Timbers' chances in Canada this weekend.

GB: Toronto FC 2, Timbers 0

The grey boy was thinking very Canadian this weekend in his short discussion about the match in Toronto. While he was excited about goals, GB has determined that it's the home side that will get all the goals in the match. He's very much in love with Portland cause that is where he lives, but this weekend, he's voting for TFC and their offense.

I like goals. I love naps, but goals are pretty awesome.

Tortie: Timbers 11, Toronto FC 8

The littlest predictor of the kitties was her usual jovial self, yakking up a storm in terms of goals. When we got done tallying all of her meows and eeps, it was 19 goals on the night and 11 for the Timbers. You know, I'm just hoping that one of these weekends, it ends up right simply because I'm not sure what Tortie would do if there was that many goals scored in one match.

Why not? I think good things could happen north of the border

Kip: Timbers 2, Toronto FC 1

I know this pick goes against convention, but Portland has managed to play well against 2 teams with undefeated records at home, so I think they break through and get the result. Portland's offense has been very good, but I believe the defense is actually due for a good result as well. Granted, this is a bit of the belief beyond reason here, but honestly, why not?

Purple is my color. Just call me purple Pilot.

Pilot: Timbers 0, Toronto FC 3

Moya decided she didn't want to play predictions this week, so her brother decided to step in for her. Pilot loves the color purple and has the nickname of pelota, but he's going very anti Portland with his selection. Then again, Moya ran away when asked about Portland's chances in Houston, so maybe he's just following her example.

1 comment:

  1. While Rick, GB and Pilot all predicted a Toronto FC win over the Timbers, nobody came in with the exact score. Pilot appears to be the closest with a 3 to 0 TFC, but Rick did predict a Timbers goal on the afternoon. - the Editors