The Portland Timbers have played 42 Major League Soccer matches as of today, and the one lesson that has to be learned from those matches is that they don’t end after 70 minutes.

In 13 of those 42 matches, including four of the last five, the Timbers lost points from not being able to hold a lead or draw starting in the 70th minute, and that totals out to 23 points lost. In contrast, only once in those 42 matches were they able to gain points starting in the 70th minute, and that was the last game of the season last year, when Futty Danso’s goal on the last kick of the season earned the Timbers a 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake.

In 2011 alone, the Timbers dropped 15 points in the final 20 minutes, which means those 15 points lost (and 1 point gained by Futty’s goal) add up to 14 possible points in the standings, which would have been good enough to put them into 3rd place in the Western Conference with 56 points and easily into the playoffs.

And amazingly enough, the problem is largely one that takes place at home. 16 of those 23 points dropped have been at home, while 7 points dropped (and the one point earned back) have been on the road.

To put this all in some perspective, going into today’s game vs. Columbus, the Timbers sit at 2 wins, 5 losses, and 1 draw, a total of 7 points, and dead last in the Western Conference. ┬áIf the matches ended at 70 minutes, we’d be at 4 wins, 2 losses, and 2 draws, a total of 14 points, and singing the praises of another solid start.

What a difference 20 minutes makes.