Timbers can clinch MLS playoff spot
After a weekend off for international soccer, the Portland Timbers return to action at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, when D.C. United visits Providence Park.
A win would clinch a playoff spot for the Timbers (13-11-8), who enter the weekend third in the MLS Western Conference. The goal is to finish in the top two and avoid a knockout match, but Portland's chance at a bye will depend upon games elsewhere.
First-place Vancouver is four points up on Portland and will finish in front of Portland if it wins at home Sunday against San Jose. The Whitecaps visit Portland for the final regular-season match on Oct. 22.
Second-place Sporting Kansas City was one point up on Portland with an extra game to play. That match took place on Wednesday against Houston.
D.C. United is last in the Eastern Conference and looking forward to 2018, when it vacates RFK Stadium for a new stadium.
Is this their week?
If so, it would be an upset of sorts for the Portland State football team, which will meet Northern Arizona at 2 p.m. Saturday at Providence Park.
The Vikings are 0-5, and have lost seven in a row, including the final two games of 2016, when they finished 3-8. NAU arrives for PSU's homecoming date at 3-2, and is in the race for a title in the Big Sky, which has had surprises from top to bottom.
Eastern Washington, written off by some before the season, looks hardly invincible but is 3-0. EWU drove for a late, winning touchdown at UC Davis last week, with Gabe Gubrud throwing his sixth touchdown pass of the game for a 41-38 victory.
Weber State and NAU are 2-0 in the Big Sky. Montana and Montana State are 2-1.
PSU is 0-2 and struggling to get its offense, defense and special teams in sync. Coach Bruce Barnum's Vikings had their moments on offense and defense last week, but PSU gave up 14 points off punting miscues (one snap mishandled, one blocked), and lost 30-22 at Montana State.
The Vikings still have to play each of the Big Sky's undefeated teams and will need to go 3-3 the rest of the way just to equal last season's win total.
Hard to believe, but one or both of the combatants in the Nov. 4 Portland State-at-Cal Poly game could be winless when the Vikings take on the Mustangs, coached by former PSU boss Tim Walsh.
Cal Poly is 0-6 (0-3 Big Sky), with games against Weber State and UC Davis between now and its Homecoming versus Portland State.
"I picked Cal Poly to win the league," Barnum says. "And North Dakota, which I also thought could win it, has lost some games," and is 1-2, 2-4 overall.
• The Portland State women's soccer team, under first-year coach Katie Burton, is second in the Big Sky at 4-1 (12 points). The Vikings trail Eastern Washington (4-0-1, 13) and are just ahead of third-place Montana (3-1-1, 10).
Five regular-season matches remain before the Big Sky tournament. PSU will be at Eastern Washington on Friday and end the regular season at Montana on Oct. 27. The six-team conference tourney will be Nov. 1-5 at the home of the regular-season champion and will determine an automatic berth in the NCAA playoffs.
• At Concordia, the women's soccer team is second in the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference, 5-0-1 in league and 8-2-1 overall. The Cavaliers have had five shutouts in their last six matches.
"Combination play and solid defense have been themes recently for our team," coach Grant Landy says.
The Cavs play host to Northwest Nazarene (8-4, 5-2) at 4 p.m. Thursday in what Landy says "should be a high-level match." No. 3 Western Washington, which leads the GNAC at 6-0 (1-0 overall), will play host to Concordia on Oct. 28.