Portland Timbers vs Colorado Rapids Preview by Chris Brown
Colorado Rapids travel to Providence Park to take on red hot Diego Valeri and the Portland Timbers.
These two sides have already met once in 2017 at Dick’s Sporting Good’s Park and on the evening the Rapids came out on top, winning 2-1. After Sebastian Blanco opened the scoring in the 18th minute Colorado was able to tie the game through Dominique Badji in the 51st minute and super sub Alan Gordon nabbed all three points for the Rapids with a looping header in the 89th minute.
Portland come into the midweek match fresh off an impressive 2-0 win over New York Red Bulls in a contest that saw Diego Valeri score the game-winner, his fourth match in a row with a goal, and assist on Portland’s second goal scored by Darren Mattocks.
Valeri has now scored 14 goals this campaign, equaling his career best in MLS, and the Argentine has notched 14 assists as well.
Colorado begin the first of a four game road trip in Portland coming off one of the most frustrating losses of their very poor season against D.C. United last weekend. In their first match since firing Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni Colorado came out in a 4-3-3 formation and looked dangerous in attack, but failed to convert any of their 18 shots into a goal. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the Rapid defense did enough to stop United from scoring but were doomed to defeat when Rapids defender Jared Watts managed to score an abhorrent own goal from 40 yards out.
The own goal was so bad and so comical it may be the perfect summary of the Rapids 2017 season.
On paper this is a match that Portland should win easily but there are a few factors that may be cause for concern for Timber’s Army.
First, Portland comes into the match dealing with a lot of injuries to important players. Fernando Adi, who has found the back of the net 10 times in 2017, is questionable with a hamstring injury and didn’t feature at all in the match against NYRB. Starting goalkeeper Jake Gleeson is also questionable and also has a hamstring injury, though backup keeper Jeff Attinella played well against the Red Bulls. Gbenga Arokoyo and Chance Myers are both out, Marco Farfan is questionable and Liam Ridgewell is listed as questionable with a quad injury. On top of all those injury woes Caleb Porter will also be without Larrys Mabiala who is suspended for the match against Colorado after seeing Red against New York on Friday night.
The second cause for worry, as if all those injuries weren’t enough, is that Portland has a much more significant match on Saturday against Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders on the road at CenturyLink Field.
It should be no surprise to see Caleb Porter rotate his squad during this congested period of the season, especially against a Colorado side that is rooted to the foot of the Western Conference table, which may give the Rapids the opening they need to nab a win or at least a point. Portland’s depth could have a real test against a Rapids team that is desperate to claim their first road win of the season in Interim Head Coach Steve Cooke’s first away game.
For the Rapids there is some hope on the horizon. New signing Luis Gil got on the pitch for the first time in Burgundy against D.C. and looked good in the 27 minutes he played. Gil should get more time on the field in the next two matches for Colorado and offers a different dynamic to Colorado’s midfield.
Fellow newcomer Stefan Aigner could finally see some action for the Rapids as well as the German forward finds his fitness. If Aigner does play it would most likely be as a sub, but Aigner offers a very different threat than Kevin Doyle and Dominique Badji and could be a good change of pace player late on for the Rapids.
Steve Cooke brought the Rapids out in 4-3-3 formation that was much more attacking oriented than Pablo Mastroeni’s 4-5-1 and as a substitute, Joshua Gatt looked sharp and dangerous playing on the wing. Gatt’s pace and penchant for beating defenders one on one fits well into the 4-3-3 and Cooke will most likely use that as he rotates though some of the squad ahead of Colorado’s weekend match against Real Salt Lake.
If you haven’t listened to the latest Radio Cascadia yet check it out! Steven Agen and the crew have some great insight into the Timbers/Rapids match as well as some important rivalry matches popping up in Cascadia this week.