The Portland Timbers, who are threatening to climb into first place on the Western Conference table, know the situation heading into a midweek visit from the struggling Colorado Rapids on Wednesday.
The Rapids are winless in their last six games and are now in a three-way tie for the worst record in the MLS. They parted ways with coach Pablo Mastroeni last week and will be playing their second match under interim coach Steve Cooke.
The Timbers, on the other hand, are in solid form and are coming off an impressive 2-0 shutout of Eastern Conference power the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.
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But Portland won’t be at full strength against the Rapids, and coach Caleb Porter is concerned about potentially looking past a struggling opponent.
“This is the type of game where it potentially could be on a paper a trap game,” Porter told reporters. “We don’t get caught up in that thinking. But we understand in MLS really that every game is a trap game. But when you play a team that’s below the table, that’s been struggling, sometimes human nature means that you don’t get the best performance that you should get. But we’re not going to let that happen, because the motivation is high for us to get three points. We have three road games after this, so we need to take care of business in this game.”
Porter ruled out defender Liam Ridgewell and said forward Fanendo Adi and keeper Jake Gleeson are unlikely to see the pitch against the Rapids.
Colorado dropped a 1-0 decision to DC United on Saturday. Cooke says the quick turnaround is good for his team.
“It stops you from dwelling,” Cooke said. “You don’t have time to talk, you don’t have time to look back, you start looking forwards. That’s my question for all the players, “Do what you can to take this team forward on Wednesday night. Only worry about Wednesday night at this point and then when you get that result, we’ll start looking forwards.”
This will be the second meeting between the Timbers and Rapids this season. Colorado rallied back from an early 1-0 deficit and beat the Timbers 2-1 on July 17, behind goals from Dominique Badji and Alan Gordon.