Toronto FC Aim for Second Straight Win vs Portland


Sep 21, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC defender Steven Caldwell (13) celebrates the win with Toronto FC goalkeeper Joe Bendik (12) at the end of a game against Chivas USA at BMO Field. Toronto FC won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Last weekend’s 3-0 win for Toronto FC (their 10th of the season, tying a franchise record) provided a much-needed boost to their playoff hopes. However, the reality is that they were expected to beat a Chivas USA team that is in disarray.

Today’s game against the Portland Timbers should provide a better indication of TFC’s chances of finally qualifying for the playoffs. The visitors are themselves involved in a dogfight in the Western Conference, currently holding onto the vital fifth spot, with a slender two point advantage over the Vancouver Whitecaps.


This will be the first meeting between the two sides this season. The last time they played was in September last year. While that particular game should have no bearing on today’s fixture, Toronto FC left Portland that day on the wrong end of a 4-0 defeat.

In fairness, the final score wasn’t a true reflection of the contest. The Timbers took a 1-0 lead right on the stroke of half-time and then withstood a furious TFC rally, before scoring three goals in the final seven minutes to secure the three points.

In terms of the all-time record between TFC and the Timbers, it’s evenly matched, with each team winning once in the four encounters. Giving Toronto FC hope is that in the two games previously played at BMO Field, they have one win and one draw.


Unsurprisingly, “The Reds” recent form is cause for concern. In the last six games they have just one win, combined with two draws and three losses. The Timbers have more reason to optimistic, winning two and drawing three over the same period.

Unfortunately, Toronto FC have not being able to take full advantage of playing before a passionate crowd at BMO Field this season. In the 14 games to date, they have lost just as many as they’ve won (six), together with two draws, resulting in a goal difference of just +1 (20-19).

Along those lines, the Timbers road record is remarkably similar to TFC’s form at home. Portland has managed five wins, four ties and five losses, also resulting in a +1 goal difference (21-20).


Aug 23, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow (2) heads the ball against the Chicago Fire at BMO Field. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

As most people are now aware, Jermain Defoe is finally back in Toronto. Manager Greg Vanney has provisionally set October 4th against the Los Angeles Galaxy as the return date for his leading goalscorer.

Overall, TFC are relatively injury-free, as Vanney confirmed after training Friday: “Collen (Warner) is very close, but not likely for tomorrow…other than that, our options are pretty open.”

Jackson will miss the next two games, after being sent off last weekend against Chivas USA – an unnecessary red, with the game already won. Michael Bradley and Justin Morrow are both one yellow card away from receiving one-game suspensions.

Portland are also in good health, with no-one on the disabled list. They have three players one yellow away from being suspended – Pa Modou Kah, joint-leading goalscorer Diego Valeri and Toronto-born Will Johnson.


Toronto FC – Steven Calwell

The defence has looked decidedly shaky of late. As such, the return of the captain was a welcome sight last weekend, and he should offer some solidity moving forward.

Caldwell spoke to the media on Friday, and he is well aware of what’s at stake during the final six games of the season:

Timbers – Maximiliano Urruti

Certainly, Urruti is a player who TFC will be familiar with. As most fans are aware, there were numerous rumours linking “The Reds” to the striker, before they eventually signing him in August last season.

However, less than a month later the Argentinian was traded to the Timbers, in many respects summing up the crazy nature of last year in Toronto. Since then, it appears the move has been a successful one for Urruti.

The 23-year old is tied for the team lead with nine goals. As such, Urruti’s match-up with Caldwell could be the key to the outcome of this game.


Am I nervous about this game? You bet I am! I was feeling fairly confident until I actually did my job for once, i.e. researched information on the Timbers. And being reminded that Urruti is now playing in Portland only added to my concern. (Let’s just say one scenario that entered my mind was the Argentinian scoring a last minute winner to break the hearts of Toronto FC fans.)

That being said, I’ve tried my best to be objective about the outcome. Portland scores a ton of goals (third most in the league), but also concedes a lot (fourth most), alluding to the possibility of a high-scoring game.

TFC desperately needs the win, but so do the Timbers. I can see both teams dropping two vital points in their respective quests to qualify for the playoffs.

Final score – TFC 2, Timbers 2

Tip Of The Tower will be at BMO Field today for the game. Make sure you follow the live coverage on our Facebook page and via Twitter @TipOfTheTower.