If the Timbers match on Wednesday was an episode of Sesame Street, the Count's number of the day would have been Three... Three. It was the number of points the Timbers hoped to gain, and it was how many minutes the Red Bulls needed to dash Portland's hopes.
Three minutes into action New York's Kyle Duncan rocketed the ball past Steve Clark and netted the Red Bulls the incredibly early 1-0 lead. The lead would hold and with it, the Timbers were left below the red line.
It's getting down to crunch time for the Timbers. They have just four games remaining on the regular-season schedule, and Wednesday's result didn't help their push for the playoffs.
Of the four teams remaining on the Timbers schedule, only Sporting Kansas City is not currently a playoff team. Basically, the road isn't easy for Portland. However, despite the loss on Wednesday, Portland still controls its own destiny. Seventh place FC Dallas has just one more point than Portland, but only has three games left on the schedule. Meaning all Portland has to do is win out, or at least win more games than Dallas, and they'll make the cut.
Sunday's game against Minnesota, while cliché, may just be the most important game of the year. Why? It's all about the number of the day - Three. A win is worth three points, while a loss would be the third in a row for the Timbers. If you're placing bets, you might want to put some money on Portland scoring three goals on Sunday. It just feels right.
So, so close:
The Timbers had their chances on Wednesday, but came up just inches away from victory. First, Diego Chara had a chance to tie the game but his shot hit the crossbar. The more you watch the replay, the more you ask how it's possible the ball didn't go in.
Jeremey Ebobisse also had a chance late in the game, but his clear look resulted in a ball pushed just wide of the net. It was another shot where you were left wondering what happened. Portland probably should have won this game 2-1, or tied at the very least, but it just wasn't in the cards.
The Timbers Army and supports around the league continue to battle with MLS over the ban of the Iron Front. "A United Front" has become a rallying cry and hashtag as supporters come together against the league. On Wednesday, Coach Savarese threw in a little nod to those supporters. "It's about to stay calm, to stay connected with our fans as a united front to make sure that we are able, together, to go through this difficult time and hopefully be able to make the playoffs." While it seems at times the organization isn't backing its loyal supporters, it appears their head coach is.
Paredes goes down:
The loss is tough enough, but it was made worse after a late-game injury to Cristhian Paredes. Paredes was on the receiving end of a hard tackle, which a foul was not called, and went down grabbing his right leg. It was hard to tell if it was shin or ankle, but it appeared to be a lower leg injury. Paredes had to be stretchered off the pitch and his status was unknown following the match. "I'm not too sure," said Savarese when asked about the injury. "Right now he's being evaluated and we'll give you exactly the situation and probably the time he will need, if any, after that collision he had." Sebastián Blanco subbed in for Paredes and played the final 17 minutes of the match.
The Timbers host Minnesota United on Sunday, September 22nd. Kickoff is set for 12:55 at Providence Park.