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  • 22 Sep 2014

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Timbers count points missed

Playoff bid foiled by ref decisions, team's inconsistent play


Interim coach Gavin Wilkinson and midfielder Jack Jewsbury use the same word to describe the Portland Timbers’ 2012 season: frustrating.

Jewsbury laments that the Timbers weren’t able to display much consistency during the March-through-October campaign.

“We’ve shown flashes of brilliance throughout certain parts of the season and, for whatever reason, we just weren’t able to put things together,” Jewsbury says.

Wilkinson is frustrated because had the Timbers, eighth in the nine-team MLS Western Conference, simply matched the 42 points they earned last season, they could be heading to the playoffs (the fifth and final spot belongs to Vancouver, which has 42 points with one game left).

Instead, the Timbers are 8-16-9 (33 points) going into their 3:30 p.m. Saturday season finale at home against San Jose.

Wilkinson also is frustrated by outside things and forces.

“You look at some of the decisions that haven’t gone our way,” he says, “and suddenly what’s been a very frustrating season was only maybe three moments away from being a lot, lot different.

“You start to look at some of the things that we couldn’t control. Some of the ref decisions. You can go back through and say, the penalty against Seattle, the penalty that we should’ve gotten at home against Vancouver, the penalty on the road against Toronto. ... Suddenly you pick up two more points in each of those three games, that’s another six points out of three recent games.

“It’s been a frustrating season from many, many angles.”

But, even in a dismal season that saw owner Merritt Paulson fire coach John Spencer midway through and go winless on the road until last weekend, the Timbers see traces of a silver lining.

The 1-0 victory at Vancouver on Sunday gave the Timbers the fan-created Cascadia Cup.

“Huge going into the offseason for our team and momentum,” striker Bright Dike says.

Portland has the third-worst goal differential in the league (with 33 goals for and 55 against), but the Timbers are 3-4-5 since July with only a minus-five differential in those 12 matches.

“This is a group that has stuck together, has never strayed from that,” Jewsbury says. “The talent is there, the potential is there, and we’re excited about next year.”

Dike says a win Saturday can continue the momentum.

“It’s all for next year,” he says. “We want to play well so that it will carry over.”

Jewsbury says that “when” Portland beats San Jose, it will leave the players, the organization and the fans feeling good over the winter.

“We want to make sure we end on a high note,” he says. “Winning the Cascadia Cup and being able to celebrate with (the fans) was great. But it will be even sweeter when we beat San Jose.”