The Portland Timbers have not lost a game in three months, the longest current streak of any MLS team. Of their last fourteen matches, the Timbers have won ten and tied four. Their most recent game resulted in a 0-0 draw against LAFC, the team they will play in the U.S. Open Quarterfinal on July 18 at 10:30ET.
A win for the Timbers would earn them their first appearance in the U.S. Open semifinal since 2013, as well as tie the record for most undefeated games in the organization’s history.
The U.S. Open Cup is the oldest soccer cup in the United States and involves nearly 100 teams from various levels of soccer leagues in the country. The cup begins with a play in match in which a handful of lower division teams get the opportunity to go head to head to earn the final three spots in the first round. From there, three rounds are played between lower divisions, excluding MLS teams.
The fourth round features 20 MLS teams either going head to head or against the winners of the previous round in a 32 team single elimination knockout stage. From there, every match is single elimination until the cup has a winner.
In their fourth round match the Timbers easily took care of arguably the worst team (and current worst season record) of the league, the San Jose Earthquakes. The Quakes finished the match with only one shot on target while the Timbers finished with 6 and maintained control of possession throughout most of the match.
The Timbers’ Round of 16 match against the LA Galaxy proved to be far more evenly matched. In the regular season the teams have tallied up the same number of wins, with the Timbers earning a few more ties and therefore being slightly higher in rankings.
The match ended in a 1-0 Portland victory, from a beautiful team goal in the first half. Midfielder Blanco began the play in the center of the pitch, sending a ground ball down the right flank to Valentin, who gave a quick ball to Adi at the top right corner of the box. With a no look one touch heel flick, Adi left the ball for Blanco, who had chased the play down the pitch, then received the ball and after a few quick dribbles finished with his left.
The quarterfinal match will be the second time the Timbers have played LAFC in four days. In the recent 0-0 draw, Timbers’ manager Giovanni Savarese put together an odd looking 3-5-1-1 formation for the match. Usual defenders Zarek Valentin and Alvas Powell started in the midfield. As players who are good on the ball, Savarese looked to be adding numbers to the attack while wanting to halt counter attacks with defensive minded players as quickly as possible.
Even if the match ends 0-0 again, a winner will have to be decided in a penalty shootout. However, despite both teams’ solid defense it is hard to believe these sides will go scoreless against one another for 180 minutes straight. LA and Portland finished with six shots on goal each and fairly even possession. LA pressed more than Portland, keeping the ball in their final third often and earning 11 corner kicks. LA looks to be the slight favorite going into the match, but Timbers certainly have the talent to advance to the final four.
The semifinals will not be played until mid August, so the four quarterfinal matches will be the last knockout play for MLS fans for the next few weeks.