With a new coach on the way, the Portland Timbers certainly
appear to be looking ahead to next season.
The Colorado Rapids don’t seem to be doing the same despite
barely being ahead of the lowly Timbers.
The Western Conference’s worst teams square off Friday night
when Portland tries to deal Colorado the longest single-season road
losing streak in franchise history.
The Timbers (6-13-6) are at the bottom of the West, two points
below the Rapids (8-16-2), and general manager Gavin Wilkinson has
served as coach since John Spencer was fired July 9. Wilkinson
named a permanent replacement Wednesday, saying University of Akron
coach Caleb Porter will take over starting next season.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve had … but most of all he’s
a great guy,” said Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe, who played
for Porter when Akron won a national championship in 2010.
In the meantime, Wilkinson remains in charge. His first win as
coach came Saturday when Portland halted the longest MLS winless
streak in club history with a 2-1 home victory over Vancouver.
Nagbe became the first player to score in three straight league
matches for the Timbers, who had been in an 0-6-2 funk. Frank
Songo’o scored the go-ahead goal – his first in a Portland uniform
– and Donovan Ricketts made six saves to get his first win in three
games since being acquired from Montreal.
“I think as a group, we’re starting to mature,” Wilkinson said.
“We’re starting to take responsibility for what we’re doing, and I
think that’s a positive.”
Colorado coach Oscar Pareja has not been nearly as pleased with
his team, going 1-8-1 since the start of July. However, Pareja and
his players aren’t giving up on making the postseason despite being
11 points behind Vancouver for the West’s fifth and final playoff
spot with eight matches remaining.
“We are not getting the results at the moment, but all we can do
is look forward to the next match, tighten up tactically and get
three points to make up some ground in the standings,” Pareja
The Rapids are winless in three straight, surrendering eight
goals. They tied a season high for goals allowed in a 4-1 defeat at
San Jose on Saturday.
“We need to tighten up defensively, stop allowing cheap goals
and learn how to finish,” said defender Tyrone Marshall, who scored
his second goal in 40 games with Colorado. “We need to be stingy
and not give the opposition anything. If we can do this, we can
make a run.”
The Rapids won’t make any run at the postseason if their play
away from home doesn’t change. They’ve lost seven straight road
games in MLS play, getting outscored 16-5, to match a single-season
franchise record set in 1998 and equaled in 2000.
Colorado, though, has won all three meetings in this series,
outscoring Portland 7-1. The Timbers fell 3-0 in Colorado on June
30 in the lone matchup this season.