Stay the course: Timbers edge toward the playoffs

ANNE M. PETERSON (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press
Stay the course: Timbers edge toward the playoffs
Portland Timbers' fan Kai Davidson watches the play against Seattle at the beginning of an MLS Soccer game in Portland, Ore., Sunday Oct. 13, 2013. Portland beat Seattle 1-0. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- The Portland Timbers mirror the personality of first-year coach Caleb Porter. With two matches left and a playoff berth within grasp, the team is all business.

The Timbers are in first place in Major League Soccer's heated Western Conference, a point ahead of Real Salt Lake and two points in front of the Seattle Sounders.

Portland and New York are atop the race for the Supporter's Shield for the team with 53 points in 32 games, although the Red Bulls hold the tiebreaker with more wins.

The even-keeled Porter has his team believing that it's not ''if'' but ''when'' the Timbers earn their first post-season berth since joining Major League Soccer in 2011.