Timbers MatchDay: vs. Toronto

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



Toronto at Timbers

Kickoff: 8 p.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field.

TV/radio: KPTV (Cable Ch. 12/712) / FM 101.1.

Tickets: www.portlandtimbers.com; 503-553-5555. A sellout is anticipated.

Where they stand: Portland (9 wins, 12 ties and 5 losses) is fifth in the West with 39 points. Toronto (4-10-12, 22 points) is ninth in the East.

Head to head: Toronto has the only win in three previous meetings between the MLS clubs. The teams played to a 2-2 draw at Toronto last season.

Timbers story: Once solidly positioned for a playoff spot, the Timbers need a win over one of the weaker teams in MLS to reboot their postseason push. The Timbers enter the weekend occupying the fifth and final playoff spot in the West, only two points ahead of Vancouver and FC Dallas. Portland has won only once in seven games and is on a two-game losing streak for the first time all season. Injuries and absences add to the challenge. Donovan Ricketts, Ryan Johnson and Alvas Powell are with the Jamaican national team. Ben Zemanski is suspended for his red card last week. A muscle strain means Diego Valeri is not expected to play. Milos Kocic, who was Toronto’s No. 1 goalkeeper last season, will face his former team. On the plus side, team captain Will Johnson is expected to play for the first time since Aug. 7, when he suffered a shoulder fracture in the U.S. Open Cup semifinal at Real Salt Lake. Bright Dike, who saw action in reserve league play last week, could be called upon to fill a void at striker. Darlington Nagbe (8) is the top goal scorer available for Portland. Valeri’s 11 assists is best on the team.

Toronto story: With only four wins in its last 38 league matches, Toronto is a franchise in transition. On Thursday the club parted ways with president and general manager Kevin Payne. In 13 road games, Toronto has scored only seven goals. Toronto has been shut out 10 times and has scored more than one goal in only six of its 26 matches. Former Timbers Joe Bendik in goal and Jeremy Hall in midfield are likely to start for Toronto. Toronto’s leading scorer is forward Robert Earnshaw (6 goals).