When Major League Soccer gets into August or September, three points can go a long way for any club in the playoff hunt. Two clubs in that hunt square off Wednesday night at JELD-WEN Field as the Portland Timbers and Chivas USA face-off in a big match.
A win now could mean big things for each club's playoff chances.
Three points at this time of the year for teams in the playoff hunt are huge. It gives them confidence for the final stretch and in some team's cases can create a little breathing room in the standings. For clubs like Chivas and Portland, it not only brings their confidence levels up but it also helps keep them in the hunt. Dropping points any time of the year is never a good thing but considering how close these clubs are in the standings, neither can afford to do so right now.
Chivas USA currently sits 11th in the overall standing, sixth in the crowded Western Conference. At 31 points on the year, a big road win would not only help keep Robin Fraser's club in the playoff discussion but it would give the Goats the big push that they need heading in to their final eight games.
Road wins haven't come easy for Chivas this year either. Three wins away from the Home Depot Center show that this club has to take the leap forward with a win tonight.
The arrival of Juan Pablo Angel has come at the right time for Chivas. While the Goats may not be interesting in using their top spot in the league's allocation order, the addition of Angel seems to come just at the right time for the team. The Red-and-White had looked decent offensively for a few weeks with Justin Braun and Nick LaBrocca stepping up but adding their first Designated Player like Angel, someone with a lot to prove after getting shutout with the Los Angeles Galaxy will make this club better.
The Timbers are also on the outside playoff zone at the moment. After their 2-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps, many felt that this club had a new lease on their playoff life.
Portland is sitting 13th in the overall standings and 7th in the Western Conference with 29 points. Three points will not only put them firmly in the mix with clubs like New York, Houston, and DC, it allows the Timbers to make a bit of a statement against a team in the mix.
With three home games left, the Timbers cannot afford to drop any points at home from here on out. Portland must use the momentum they gained in last week's win to carry them in this one. Seeing how Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza helped guide the Timbers to a win, they'll need more of that same strong performance from the two Colombians, caption Jack Jewsbury and most importantly from their defense to help push them here.
A loss for the Timbers tonight likely kills off their playoff dreams though. Seeing how the Timbers have faired on the road so far this season and with road games in DC, Salt Lake, New York and in Philadelphia coming up, the Timbers have to make the most of their chances at home.
Three points are huge tonight. It just comes down to which team will have what it takes to really make this push.