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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Timbers Scheduled To Drop Cascadia Cup, Make Playoff Push

Posted by Brian Gjurgevich on Wed, Jan 9, 2013 at 7:40 PM

New Timbers forward Ryan Johnson puts some work in at an empty Jeld-Wen Field on Tuesday.
  • Portland Timbers
  • New Timbers forward Ryan Johnson gets some work in at an empty Jeld-Wen Field on Tuesday. MLS released Portland's 2013 schedule on Wednesday, which included four of six Cascadia Cup matches away from home.

If the Cascadia Cup is to stay in Portland, the Timbers will need to leave Vancouver and Seattle with a few more points this season.

Major League Soccer released the Timbers' 2013 schedule, and with it, a home field disadvantage for Portland's supporters to retain the one thing that brought them joy in 2012.

Portland is away on four of six Cascadia dates in 2013, invading Seattle on March 16 and Aug. 25 and visiting Vancouver on May 18 and Oct. 6. That puts the Timbers—who won the Cup last year behind eight points in four home tilts—decidedly in the passenger seat for a repeat. In total, MLS slated 34 matches for PTFC—17 home and 13 nationally televised—between the season opener March 3 vs. New York and the season finale at Chivas USA on Oct. 26.

Holy Halloween, it's a haul—and one of the longest seasons in professional team sports (35 weeks!) stacked atop a North America's worth of travel make the rigors of MLS unique to any league. At his introductory presser on Tuesday, newly unveiled coach Caleb Porter emphasized that experience helps along the journey, which is why his biggest offseason moves have been adding MLS vets like Michael Harrington, Will Johnson and Ryan Johnson.

Ah, but did the schedule deliver any literally-on-paper advantages for Portland? Indeed, the Timbers are set up for a potential late-season playoff push, with no travel east of Salt Lake City after July 20 and five of their final eight MLS matches at home. This would be a good time to mention that a) The whole "Home vs. Road" thing matters because Portland was 1-12-4 away from J-WF last season, and b) That shit doesn't matter at all because there are moves to be made, matches to be played and identities to be built. In any case, Porter said he'll look to establish more consistency in Portland's gameplan, no matter whose pitch is involved.

"When you're adopting a completely different philosophy home and away, I personally don't think that's the right thing to do," he said. "Because you're sending mixed messages to your players. At home you're confident and playing to win, and on the road you're nervous [and] you're tentative. Maybe some of that played into the lack of road success [in 2012]. Perhaps."

Full schedule here. Portland hosts Cascadia Cup rivals Vancouver on Aug. 3 and Seattle on Oct. 13. Individual game tickets go on sale Feb. 18.

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