Match Preview: Is This The Game When Postseason Secured?
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS DICK’S Sporting Goods Park Saturday, October 23 | Altitude
One place and six points separates the Rapids from the Timbers as the two meet for a second time this season on Saturday night inside DICK’S Sporting Goods Park.
The previous encounter, on September 15, was a huge, missed opportunity for Robin Fraser’s side, as they were held to a 2-2 draw in Portland, by a Timbers team which played the entire second half with 10 men. Bill Tuiloma was sent off three minutes before the interval for a second bookable offense.
Twice the Rapids led in that game, and twice the 10-man Timbers hit back. The second equalizer came in stoppage time, and after leading scorer Michael Barrios had scored late on with one from the tightest of angles.
There has been a succession of ‘what if’ scenarios over the past few months but one thing is for sure - the Rapids will secure postseason soccer with a win at the weekend. A point may even be enough, depending on results elsewhere.
The Rapids will have Diego Rubio available after suspension. He sat out the midweek draw with Seattle Sounders due to yellow card accumulation. Portland will have Diego Chara available after yellow cards caught up with him, forcing him to watch the Timbers give up a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at home to the Whitecaps on Wednesday night.
That surprise loss for Portland included a booking for Cristhian Paredes, which was enough to take him over the threshold, and so he will watch from afar this weekend.
It is still not clear whether Younes Namli will have shaken off the ankle knock which prevented his participation in Wednesday’s game. His late withdrawal offered Dominique Badji the chance to make a first start since his return to the club. He bagged his second goal back in burgundy, on his 99th appearance for the club.
Lucas Esteves will likely return to the left back position, allowing Fraser to push Kellyn Acosta into his more favored midfield role, though this scenario depends on the fitness of Keegan Rosenberry. Acosta began on the left side of defense against Seattle, before switching to the right when Rosenberry departed. US international Acosta offered a little too much space to Leo Chu inside the box, allowing the Seattle sub to square for Cristian Roldan to tuck away the leveler.
The Rapids have been a tough team to beat inside DICK’S Sporting Goods Park this season, boasting a 7-1-7 record at home. The only loss came in the home opener against Austin FC. As impressive as the 14-game unbeaten run is, it is worth adding the caveat that the Rapids began the run by going 5-0-2, but have since managed two wins and five draws in the seven games since.
With four games to go, it is vital that the Rapids begin to string some solid performances and positive results over the final two weeks of the regular season. It is often teams getting hot at this stage who make a deep run into the playoffs. The Rapids’ form of late has been patchy, albeit during a hectic spell.
For this weekend, the message from Robin Fraser should be quite clear: ‘Win, and you’re in.’
Coverage of the Colorado Rapids vs. Portland Timbers is on Altitude TV from 6.30pm MT, or via the ESPN+ app.
HEAD-TO-HEAD Colorado wins: 8 Portland wins: 10 Draws: 6
RECORD AT DSGP Colorado wins: 6 Portland wins: 2 Draws: 4
Portland players to watch: Felipe Mora, 11 goals, 4 assists (above); Dairon Asprilla, 9 goals, 3 assists; Yimmi Chara, 6 goals, 5 assists; Sebastian Blanco, 4 goals, 6 assists.