Not much changed for either team over the weekend. The Portland Timbers had to equalize twice to rescue points, and the Colorado Rapids continued their downhill slide in the 6-0 thrashing they were handed in Los Angeles. The two teams meet for the third and final time this regular season to decide a series that is so far split.
The Portland Timbers continue to keep fans on the edge of their seats with their latest match against the San Jose Earthquakes. In a match dominated by the Timbers, Diego Valeri orchestrated yet another comeback with three assists, all in the second half. Unlikely goal scorers Liam Ridgewell and Alvas Powell both found themselves on the score sheet, and Kalif Alhassan secured the point just one minute after it looked like the Earthquakes had stolen the game in the 85th minute.
It's no doubt that defending is the issue for the Portland Timbers. The midfield and forwards played arguably their best game of the season against San Jose, but the defense continued to leak goals into the back of the net. Coach Caleb Porter used the same back line against San Jose that shutout the Vancouver Whitecaps in the week prior.
Three goals doesn't do much justice to the Timbers defenders however. Jorge Villafana showed to be his usual self, playing solid defense on the wings and serving in crosses. Alvas Powell surprised most people by scoring his second goal in as many games, but didn't fare as well as Villafana on the defensive side. The problem lied in the middle of the Timbers' back line. Twice, Chris Wondolowski scored all too easy goals when he was left widely unmarked between the two Portland center backs, Ridgewell and Pa Kah.
It's almost a certainty at this point that Caleb Porter will once again switch his defenders around for the next game. The one move that seems imminent is Pa Kah returning to the bench. The last time Portland played Colorado, Danny O'Rourke was the featured center back alongside Liam Ridgewell. The game ended 2-1 in Portland's favor. O'Rourke seems the most likely candidate for the spot this time around.
Although Fanendo Adi has been Porter's favored striker as of late, Maxi Urruti has a good chance to get the start against the Rapids. Maxi struggled to find the back of the net in the beginning of the year, but since taking a back seat to Adi, he has thrived off the competition and now leads the Timbers with nine goals and boasts one of the best ever shot conversion rates the league has ever seen. Maxi Urruti scored the equalizer in the last match against Colorado and two of their last three against the Rapids. Check out the goal and highlights below.
Colorado's season has come crashing down on top of them in a heap of flames. They have now lost seven straight games with a dreadful stat line of 22 goals against, and only 6 goals for. Colorado are now one loss away from tying the New England Revolution for this season's worst losing streak of eight games. Their latest loss fell at the hands of the LA Galaxy when they were shutout 6-0.
Along with one of the Galaxy's best ever goal scoring games, Los Angeles played home to the fastest ever red card in MLS. Rapids' goalkeeper Joe Nasco was sent off in the first minute when he fell to ground and grabbed the left leg of LA forward Alan Gordon. The referee saw this as denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity and gave a red card to the Rapids, and a penalty kick to the Galaxy. Landon Donovan, Baggio Husidic, and Gyasi Zardes each bagged doubles to humiliate a Colorado side already in a heap of trouble.
If Colorado wants to save their season, they're going to have to take three points from the Portland Timbers. This hasn't come easy for the Rocky Mountain side in recent meetings. Colorado is 1-3-1 over their last five games with the Timbers. Fortunately for Rapids fans, their team has fared well in the higher altitude, escaping with four points from a possible six in the last two games at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
Rapids' young striker Deshorn Brown has avoided a sophomore slump, proving to be the number one striker for Colorado. Last year, Brown led the team with 10 goals, and currently sits two below that mark with seven games left in the regular season for the Rapids. Brown has scored two of the last three goals for the Rapids against Portland. He was the lone goal scorer for the Rapids in the last match between the two sides, only to suffer a right groin strain minutes later. Brown has since recovered and will likely make yet another start against the Portland Timbers.
It's do or die time for the Portland Timbers as the regular season is coming to a close. A win will be a much welcomed result to the Timbers with a busy schedule looming. CONCACAF Champions League matches and a tight playoff race highlight the end of Caleb Porter's second season with the club. If he and the Timbers want to keep playing into November, they'll need to start by taking all three points from Colorado this Saturday.