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Portland finally banished the zero from its wins column, but a tall task till awaits a Timbers side aiming for the postseason.

It took nine games for the 2014 Portland Timbers to get a win. Nine games. Nine games, 92 shots, 2,888 successful passes, one gator bite, three Gaston Fernandez equalizers, four penalties conceded to and converted by opposing teams before Max Urriti's 94th-minute stab against D.C. United earned a first multiple-point addition to the Timbers' season total.

That total now stands at eight points. Which is five behind one Cascadian rival - Vancouver in the fifth and final playoff spot - and a whopping 14 behind the other, the league-leading Seattle Sounders. So there's some work to do, yeah, but this is still an important win for Portland. It's the type of result that the kind of club Portland aspires to be should use as a turning point.

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter was characteristically dispassionate about the result itself, but even he was willing to admit the potential mental boost.

"It's good," he said after game. "It's just three points, but it's a big three points.

"It's the type of result that really catapults a team in a season. It's a season-changing result, I think."

Captain Will Johnson was similarly pleased to get the win.

"Tomorrow will be a much better day than any day we've had this year," the midfielder admitted. "It's been tough. Off the field, life is affected by every thing we do on the field, and when we're not winning, we struggle to live our everyday lives and be happy."

Johnson's daily life will be much sunnier (metaphorically, if not literally - he still lives in Portland) if the Timbers can make the playoffs. It won't be an easy task: The 2013 Timbers collected points at a brisk clip of 1.68 per game, but even doing that over their remaining 25 matches would only add up to 50 points -  which wouldn't have been enough to get them into the playoffs last year; San Jose missed out with 51.

This isn't saying that the Timbers won't make the playoffs. Indeed, 50 is probably enough in most years (Vancouver snuck into the last spot with 43 in 2012, a season with an especially poor bottom half in the West). It does however, illustrate the difficulty facing Caleb Porter's men. They have to be at least as good as the best team in the conference last year to have a chance at November soccer. The fact that the best team last year was the Timbers makes for bitter irony.


Portland - A win! An important win! A Max Urruti goal! In stoppage time! In the rain! It was dramatic, and he needed two shots to do it, but Max Urruti's second goal of the season, combined with a Futty Danso goal and Gaston Fernandez's he-just-scored-and-people-are-still-buying-their-beers opener were enough to overcome Davy Arnaud's deflected opener and a Futty Danso own goal. Now the real work begins.

Coming up: The Timbers host the LA Galaxy. Both teams are performing below expectations this year and need wins to jump into the race for the final playoff spot. Sunday, May 11, 11:30 a.m. PT - NBCSN

Seattle - Two games where Clint Dempsey didn't score, and Obafemi Martins only had one. But Martins assisted Lamar Neagle and Kenny Cooper, and Chad Marshall had another and the Sounders still won twice, and still lead MLS in goals scored and points of both the total and per-game variety. If Seattle could manage to maintain this pace (it won't), it would be the second-best team in league history, but only because the '98 Galaxy were that amazing.

Coming up: A long trip and a visit to a New England Revolution side that has been resurgent in recent weeks, winning three of its last four. Sunday, May 11, 3 p.m. PT - MLS LIVE

Vancouver - A win against the San Jose Earthquakes will help as the Whitecaps try and hold on to the last playoff spot. A loss to Toronto FC is a blow to their hopes of Champions League play. But Vancouver fans will be happy to welcome more goals from designated player Pedro Morales and teenage star Kekuta Manneh.

Coming up: The Whitecaps are away to the slumping Columbus Crew in midweek, and the Ohio side is winless in six and on a two-game losing streak after opening the year with three wins. Saturday, May 10, 4:30 p.m. PT - MLS LIVE, TSN

That's followed up by a midweek Canadian Championship match and a chance for some revenge against Toronto FC. Wednesday, May 14, 7:30 p.m. PT - Sportsnet One