Rapids-Timbers Preview

The Colorado Rapids have been on a roll since they last played

in Portland. It might be hard for them to keep it going considering

most teams who visit there don’t fare well.

Colorado has lost only once since they last faced the Timbers,

who will look to extend an 11-game unbeaten streak at Jeld-Wen

Field and pass the Rapids in the Western Conference standings.

The Rapids (12-8-9) fell 3-0 in Portland on June 23, which

stands as their most lopsided loss of the MLS season.

The teams’ only other meeting this year was a 2-2 draw on March

30 in Colorado, the last of a five-game winless streak to open the

Rapids’ season.

Recently, things have been quite different. Colorado is 7-1-4

since the blowout loss in Portland, with its 25 points during that

span ranking second in MLS only to league-best Seattle’s 28.

The Rapids now finds themselves in the middle of the West’s

five-team playoff pack after a 2-1, come-from-behind home win over

FC Dallas on Saturday.

“It’s fantastic going down the last few games of the season,

pushing for the playoff,” forward Atiba Harris told the Rapids’

official website. “I think that’s huge for us to have a little bit

of separation.”

The Timbers (10-5-13) return home looking to prevent any further

separation and add some comfort to their iffy playoff position.

That cause could be helped by their next two games and four of five

coming at Jeld-Wen Field, where Portland has gone 8-0-3 in league

play since a 2-1 loss to Montreal on March 9 in its second home

date of the season.

Currently fifth in the West but with a chance to move into third

with a victory, the Timbers are two points behind the Rapids with a

game in hand and one back of fourth-place Los Angeles.

“Every game is important for us because we want to get into the

playoffs and we’re in the last spot and we want to keep it that

way,” goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts told the Timbers’ official

website. “We want to push our way up and get away from the

bottom.”

Ricketts enters Friday with things seeming to have calmed some

in his own penalty area. After a three-match stretch from Aug.

21-30 in which Portland conceded eight goals, it has allowed just

one in two matches this month.

Backup keeper Milos Kocic defeated Toronto FC 4-0 on Sept. 7,

then Ricketts returned from the Jamaica national team to make a

pair of saves in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Chivas USA.

Colorado hasn’t scored more than two goals in 11 straight

matches but has been shut out only once in that span and has

blanked five of those opponents. The eight goals the Rapids have

allowed since July 4 are the fewest in the league.

Will Johnson has scored three of Portland’s five goals in this

season series.