Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS Regular Season
Dick's Sporting Goods Park – Commerce City, Colorado
Saturday, June 17 – 9:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
There is plenty of incentive for the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers to want to prevail from their Saturday affair with all three points, and not just because they are both riding two-game winning streaks in league play.
The Rapids and Timbers will collide in a Western Conference fixture on Saturday night at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, and both sides will be eager to extend their recent good runs. For Colorado, the weekend home game provides an opportunity to jump out of the basement in the west and closer to the red line. Portland, meanwhile, will want to give themselves a shot at potentially move into the top spot in the table.
Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni and Timbers boss Caleb Porter will both have to assess how many minutes players can go in this one. The two clubs participated in U.S. Open Cup games earlier in the week, with mixture of Colorado starters and reserves pulling off an impressive comeback against OKC Energy and Portland falling at the hands of one of their bitter rivals in the Seattle Sounders while resting most of their starters.
The Rapids have a shot at moving out of the Western Conference's cellar, but have a tough task at hand. Colorado have to slow down a Portland attack that should feature staples Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi, and will likely need to count on a makeshift backline once again to do so. The good news for Mastroeni's men is that they are riding a small-but-growing wave of confidence after posting back-to-back victories against Sporting Kansas City and Columbus Crew SC.
“I think we’ve always had a good locker room, but winning helps everything,” said Alan Gordon earlier this month. “When you’re winning, spirits are high and everybody’s flying. The vibe is good right now.”
Of course, the Rapids will need to see the ball hit the back of the opposing net in order to win in front of their fans on Saturday. They have not been extraordinarily good at that this year, with just 12 goals in 13 matches thus far, but saw two of their forwards tally in the comeback win over Crew SC. If goals do come in bunches for strikers, Colorado might have enough to prevail.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Absences: None
- Injury Report: OUT: M - Bismark Adjei-Boateng (back); QUESTIONABLE: M - Shkelzen Gashi (hamstring); D - Kortne Ford (foot); D - Axel Sjoberg (leg)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-4-2): Tim Howard - Marlon Hairston, Bobby Burling, Kortne Ford, Eric Miller - Joshua Gatt, Dillon Powers, Micheal Azira, Mohammed Saeid - Dominique Badji, Kevin Doyle
Notes: Colorado have won their last three home games, allowing just one goal (conceded five in their first four home games this season). It is the longest home winning streak since March 12 – May 11, 2016, when the Rapids won six home games in a row. … Micheal Azira has 44 interceptions this season, the most in MLS. Azira is one of three players with 40 or more interceptions this season.
The Timbers have a few injury concerns at the heart of their defense and will be missing a key midfielder in David Guzman because of suspension. Still, the recent showing by their two-headed attacking monster should give them plenty of reason to smile.
Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi helped lead Portland to a 2-0 win against FC Dallas last weekend, and the talented duo will attempt to build on that against a Rapids backline that will be not be at full strength. Adi will especially be feeling good heading into this one given that he bagged a brace in Week 15, which was needed given that he was on a five-game scoreless streak that was frustrating him.
"It has been tough for me, not scoring goals," said Adi to Root Sports NW after the match. "It happens, but the best thing is to keep [your] composure, keep training well and keep doing the right thing of course. We have great coaches that help me a lot in training, so credit to them. It's just amazing to be able to find the back of the net twice again."
On the other end of the field, Caleb Porter will likely have to figure out how to replace both center backs Liam Ridgewell and Roy Miller after they suffered injuries last week, but has veteran options with the likes of Amobi Okugo and Lawrence Olum.
- Suspended: David Guzman (Yellow card accumulation)
- Int’l Absences: None
- Injury Report: OUT: D - Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles); D - Chance Myers (hamstring); DOUBTFUL: D - Liam Ridgewell (quad); QUESTIONABLE: D - Roy Miller (foot); M - Jack Barmby (ankle); F - Darren Mattocks (adductor)
Projected Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Jake Gleeson - Zarek Valentin, Amobi Okugo, Lawrence Olum, Vytas - Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski - Dairon Asprilla, Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco - Fanendo Adi
Notes: After winning two of their first three road games (1L), Portland are winless in their last four away games (3L-1D), which includes a three-game losing streak in which they have scored just one goal. … Fanendo Adi has four goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, the most in the league over that time period.
Colorado have won just one of the last seven match-ups against Portland (4L-2D). However, the Rapids won their most recent home match against the Timbers (1-0 on Oct. 1, 2016).
- Overall: Colorado 6 wins (20 goals), Portland 7 wins (19 goals), 3 draws
- At Colorado: Colorado 5 wins (17 goals), Portland 1 win (7 goals), 3 draws
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Frank Anderson, Jonathan Johnson
Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi