Rapids-Timbers Preview

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.