No, this isn’t the Portland Timbers version of Groundhog Day. Thanks to the unbalanced schedule format, we get a third and thankfully final match of the season between the Portland Timbers (7-13-6, 27 points) and Colorado Rapids (8-17-2, 26 points).
The Timbers hope to extend their two game winning streak as well as “check off another box” by getting their first road win of the season on Wednesday against the Rapids.
Here’s a few thoughts on Wednesday’s match:
* Going with the hot hands
No matter what your feelings on Gavin Wilkinson are, there’s no denying the Timbers are playing much better over the last 3-4 weeks. Part of that improvement can definitely be attributed to some consistency in the Timbers starting XI. Sal Zizzo and Franck Songo’o have put their injury issues behind them and are playing their best soccer as a Timbers player. Bright Dike finally got a shot in the lineup and has rewarded Wilkinson’s trust with 2 goals in 3 matches. David Horst and Hanyer Mosquera played their best match as a centerback pairing on Saturday as well. Steven Smith has performed better as late as well and even won MLS Save of the Week. Most of all, Darlington Nagbe has begun to show signs of becoming an MLS star and one of the league’s most dominant players. His recent form even inspired an article on the MLS website about his potential as the #8 on the U.S Men’s National Team.
Because of all of this, I certainly expect we’ll see the same lineup again on Wednesday:
* A Tale of Two Teams
Usually a subtitle like the one above would indicate that I’m going to write about the Timbers road woes. However, while the Timbers are still the only team this season winless on the road, I’m actually thinking more about how the Timbers and the Rapids seem to be heading in different directions.
Since defeating the Timbers 3-0 on June 30th, the Colorado Rapids have gone 1-9-1. Over that same period, the Timbers have gone 3-6-2 and 2-4-2 under Gavin Wilkinson. While it’s not much better, the Timbers have shown improvement since going to a more possession style of play. This may be the Timbers best chance to win an away match this season. If recent form holds true, it may just happen.
INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: DF Anthony Wallace (L Achilles tear); MF Pablo Mastroeni (headaches); FW Edu (R foot contusion); QUESTIONABLE: FW Kamani Hill (L quad strain); PROBABLE: FW Omar Cummings (R ankle soreness) … PORTLAND TIMBERS – OUT: DF Chris Taylor (R hip surgery); PROBABLE: MF Kalif Alhassan (L patellar tendinitis); GK Jake Gleeson (R groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: COL: Omar Cummings (Jamaica) … POR: Lovel Palmer (Jamaica); Steve Purdy (El Salvador); Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: COL: Tyson Wahl … POR: Steven Smith
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Kris Boyd, Jack Jewsbury, Hanyer Mosquera, Lovel Palmer, Kosuke Kimura … COL: Jaime Castrillon, Jeff Larentowicz, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor, Martin Rivero
I think the Timbers check off more boxes on Wednesday night by getting their first road win and their first three match winning streak with a 2-1 victory over the Rapids.