By Ben Golliver
So many storylines, so little time for the Portland Timbers, as they kick off this year's USSF Division 2 playoffs. Let's break it down.
Who: The Timbers will face off in a two-game series against the Vancouver Whitecaps, one of the Rose City club's biggest rivals.Ãƒâ€š The Whitecaps eliminated the Timbers from last year's playoffs and are set to make the jump to Major League Soccer along with the Timbers next season.
The Timbers hold the advantage this season: Portland has won 3 times, lost once and drawn 3 times against Vancouver in 2010. The last meeting between the teams came on Oct. 2nd, when they drew 2-2.
When: The two-game series will be a standard home-and-home series, meaning each team will host the other once.Ãƒâ€š The Timbers will travel to Vancouver Thursday night for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff and then the teams will come back to Portland to finish the series at Merlo Field on Sunday night at 6:00 p.m. The Timbers will not play in PGE Park because it is undergoing renovations in preparation for the move to MLS next season. For more information on purchasing playoff tickets, click here.
What: The home-and-home series determines which team will move on to the semifinals of the USSF Division 2 playoffs.Ãƒâ€š The series winner will be determined by aggregate goals, making it imperative that the Timbers to get off to a strong start on Thursday night on the road.Ãƒâ€š Standard strategy in these series is to play for a draw on the road and for a win at home, however the Timbers are riding a pretty insane hot streak: They haven't lost a game since Aug. 8th, going 6-0-4 in their last 10 games.Ãƒâ€š The Whitecaps, meanwhile, are just 2-2-6 in their last 10 games. Look for the Timbers to go for the jugular on Thursday night.
Ben Golliver is a freelance writer, native Oregonian and avid follower of the Timbers.Ãƒâ€š He editsBlazersedge, co-hostsÃƒâ€š The Dontonio Wingcast and regularly contributes toÃƒâ€š SB Nation. Follow him onTwitter.