Are the Portland Timbers Doomed for the Rest of 2024?

With a third of the season gone, and the Portland Timbers sitting in second to last in the Western Conference, are the Portland Timbers done in 2024?
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Sunday afternoon was a complete disaster for the Portland Timbers. Their 2-1 loss to their heated rival, Seattle Sounders at home, compounds what’s already been a very disappointing season for Portland in 2024. The first half started fine enough with a 15’ Felipe Mora goal, but after two Sounders goals-- one in the 19th minute and the other in the 50th-- the lack of creativity and effort in the second half doomed the Timbers. 

Manager Phil Neville said as much during the post-game press conference. ‘“Today was our bounce-back game. Today was the game where we had to, we had to show something different than what we’ve not done over the last eight games. There have been positives in the last 8 games. Today at this moment in time I can't feel positive because of the result.”

So where do the Timbers go from here? After losing the one game both the team and Timbers Army circled as a must-win, cure-all for their woeful start, there is not much to be optimistic about a third of the way through the MLS season. Let's take a quick dive in.

The Offense Has Come Crashing Down

The most concerning aspect of the Timbers in this current form they are on is that the offense seems to have settled back to the median of the league. If that is the case, then Portland is going to be in a world of hurt this summer.

The defense being bad has been talked about ad nauseam to this point. They have been the weak link on this team thus far. Although the Timbers have been lucky enough to even be where they are now, and not lower in the table if it weren't for their offense.  

If the offense can't keep pace with what the backline is allowing--which is now 25 goals in 12 games played, second to last in the league-- then the Timbers are going to lose more often than win. Portland’s xG now sits at 1.12 per game, which is 26 out of 29 in the league. The backline has an xG rate of 1.73, a difference of -.61 xG per game, fourth worst in MLS. You don’t have to be an analytics master to figure out that is not great. 

Portland’s average goals per game has also decreased from 2.0 per game just a couple of games ago to 1.75 per game. Portland must figure out their defensive woes before they can get right on the offense. However, if the players aren't playing to their potential, does it matter?