While Timbers coach John Spencer uses this day to mull some challenging lineup calls, Portland fans will be looking for a bit of help from PTFC's ever-shifting list of Wild Card rivals. Postseason scenarios have thinned a bit for the Rose City, and as the Timbers (10-7-13, 37 points) prepare for tomorrow's Cascadia Cup derby (1:30 p.m. on ROOT, 750 AM) at shiny-new BC Place, Portland's footy fans should focus in three games featuring fellow playoff suitors:
New York (39 pts) @ Toronto (30 pts): Toronto can help Portland by knocking off a Red Bulls squad again perched in 10th place after besting the Timbers last week. New York embarrassed Toronto 5-0 in their last meeting, and the taste of defeat is as sour as Molson Ice in Toronto after it was thumped 3-0 last week at Chivas USA to snap a two-match winning streak. Can the Canadians wash it all down and serve up some revenge to an inconsistent New York side? Toronto has have shown a bit of late-season life, but the Red Bulls sound like they know it's time to focus: "With four games to go everyone is very aware of what it means," said New York coach Has Backe. "As we said before Portland, every game is a cup final now." The Timbers want: A Toronto win
Chicago (36 pts) at Houston (42 pts): Both sides are rolling into this one, and a repeat of their 1-1 draw from earlier this season wouldn't be the worst result for the Timbers' hopes. The roaring Fire have five wins in six matches and are hot on Portland's heels, while the Timbers' Oct. 14 foe Houston is undefeated in three straight. The wild card in this one will be Chicago's lineup, the strength of which coach Frank Klopas must ponder knowing a U.S. Open Cup final at Seattle is set for Tuesday. The Timbers could use: A draw.
FC Dallas (46 pts) @ Colorado (42 pts): Streaky Colorado sits a few slots ahead of Portland, but the Rapids are reeling a bit lately with just two points in their last five matches. If Colorado hopes to defend its MLS Cup, it'll need to pick up its play at home, where the Rapids have lost three straight. Thing is, Portland needs a struggling Dallas side (which has dropped four of five, hasn't scored in three matches and is desperate for any type of boost) to play more like the the team that looked like an elite MLS side a few weeks back. The Timbers wouldn't mind: A Dallas win.
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