Saturday’s MLS game between the Portland Timbers and the hosting Minnesota Loons is a match with two teams playing for different goals.
Portland (13-8-8, 47 points) is fighting for playoff position, while Minnesota (9-16-3, 30 points), realistically but not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, is hoping to end the season on a positive note.
Portland has had a roller-coaster-type season, at one point going 15 straight games without a loss, with their recent form not as solid. The Timbers are 3-5-1 in their last nine games.
They are tied for third with the Los Angeles Football Club and only four points back of first-place Sporting Kansas City.
In their last game, Portland gave up a goal just seven minutes into the match before rallying for a 3-2 win over Columbus.
“We responded very well under the adversity,” said Portland coach Giovanni Savarese. “For (Columbus) finding the goal early and for us to react right away and raise the level — it was fantastic. That’s something that we spoke about during the two days that we’ve been practicing, and I thought that that was great from the guys.”
Minnesota is a long shot to make the playoffs, currently 14 points out of a spot with only six games left to play. A lot would have to go right for the Loons to make a run, but with four of the six games at home, where the team has gone 8-4-1 this year, anything is possible.
For Minnesota, it’s more than just fighting for a playoff spot.
“We’ve got a couple of games coming up at home,” said Minnesota coach Adrian Heath. “It’s important we finish the season strong at home and give our supporters something to cheer about because they have been absolutely magnificent for us all year.”
—Field Level Media