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Timbers v. Alpha United: A Chance To Advance

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

 

Timbers Frozen Chipmunk

Photo Credit: frozenchipmunk via Compfight cc (Image Cropped)

The Portland Timbers have a chance to all but seal a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a win against Alpha United today, Tuesday, September 23 at Providence Park.

If the Timbers win at home on Tuesday, all they have to do to advance is not lose by more than 2 goals when they take on CD Olimpia on October 21 in Honduras.

This is all you need to know about Portland's CCL fate: win, then, just don’t lose by much.

Alpha United, on the other hand, is mathematically eliminated from the group stages.

However, that could be dangerous for the hometown Timbers, who will find it hard to not look past a mentally-defeated opponent.

We do not know what to expect from the Guyana-based Alpha United squad; they could pack it in, or go down fighting.

Entertaining match

Regardless, it should be an entertaining match.

The last time these two played, it involved a trip to South America and a cricket field.

Despite playing on a hard and dry field with a large cricket mound running through a fourth of the playing surface, the Timbers used the field’s pace to their advantage, putting up a 4-1 score against an, as of then, unknown opponent. 

First-half goals by Steve Zakuani and Maximiliano Urruti were matched by second-half strikes from Fanendo Adi and Alvas Powell.

WATCH PORTLAND v. ALPHA UNITED HIGHLIGHTS HERE.

After winning their CCL debut, and traveling over 10,000 miles in the process – the longest in CCL history – Portland stood atop of Group 5 based on goal differential.

CD Olimpia, a perennial powerhouse in the Honduran League, fell to second after a narrow 1-0 victory of Alpha United. 

Group 5 top spot

As Portland looks to secure the top spot in Group 5 and advance out of the CCL group stages, CD Olimpia remains as the only formidable opponent.

That was until Portland took the first leg on September 16, defeating Olimpia in style at home.

Despite defensive and goalkeeper lapses from both teams, Portland’s offensive depth pulled through in the second half as the Timbers scored two unanswered goals in a 4-2 home victory over the only other Group 5 contender.

WATCH PORTLAND v. CD OLIMPIA HIGHLIGHTS HERE.

Even though the Timbers cruised past CD Olimpia at home, don’t expect a similar atmosphere in Honduras.

Home field advantage

Olimpia is the nation’s most successful team, having won 27 domestic league titles, and their home field advantage goes beyond the field.

“It was an interesting game overall,” said Olimpia Head Coach Hector Vargas regarding the teams' first game.

“We know Portland played well here, but we do know one thing, that in Honduras the weather will be very different and that is something that will create a very different type of match.”

As of now, Portland stands atop Group 5 (2-0-0). CD Olimpia (2-0-1) lies in second, and Alpha United (0-0-2) has been eliminated from the group stages.

With a win against Alpha United on September 16, Portland can put aside their CCL concerns as they head down the home stretch of the MLS regular season.

The Timbers are now above the red line in the Western Conference, sitting two points ahead of Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the fifth and final playoff spot.

If the season were to end right now, Portland would face FC Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.

Portland is 0-1-1 against Dallas this season. They will face each other one more time on October 25 for the teams’ last regular season game.

Home Page Photo Credit: rayterrill via Compfight cc (Image Cropped)

 

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