Portland Timbers Moment of Clarity

The Portland Timbers take the field tonight - a game I, unfortunately, cannot make - against one of their few plausible rivals for a playoff spot, the Puerto Rico Islanders. As The Oregonian’s Timbers Weblog rather bluntly points out, though, it’s a pretty unequal rivalry with the Timbers on the wrong end of it. (The permalink feature isn’t working, so just visit the site and look for the title, The Playoff Push (Kind of).) They've also got a good "magic number" table for your edification.

Whatever happens, this weekend begins the moment of clarity in the Timbers 2006 season. Between tonight’s game and their next on August 31st (against, gulp, L’Impact de Montreal), the several teams the Timbers could remotely (very remotely) hope to catch will play out their respective games in hand. So, while the Timbers play two games between now and August 31...

...the Virginia Beach Mariners will play three games.
...the Puerto Rico Islanders will play four games.
...the Atlanta Silverbacks will play three games.
...Miami FC will play four games.

This means that, by the end of the day on August 31, the Timbers and their Mariners will have their total points from 26 games, Puerto Rico and Miami from 25 games, and Atlanta from 24 games. The rough equality among the players should tell our Timbers, in fairly clear terms, the importance of their last two games. Sad to say, the current standings kind of flatter the Timbers' position till one picks through the details.

Nearly everyone figures the fat lady is deep into her aria so far as the Timbers are concerned. Not that this loosens the "official" Timbers' site's grip on their delusions:

“The Timbers were able to snap an 11-game winless streak when they downed the Virginia Beach Mariners for the first time in franchise history on Aug. 10. With four games to play and only five points [ed. - yes!] separating the Timbers from a playoff position, Portland will be trying to get the most out of its home-field advantage.”

Ah...such sweet belief, such touching hope. They’re like kids searching under an empty Christmas tree for the pony they mentioned to Santa Claus.

No comments: