On paper, the Rapids' 3-0 loss at Portland in their last meeting is the team's worst loss of the season. But to Colorado coach Oscar Pareja, it was one of the team's best matches.
"Honestly, I thought that was one of our better games," Pareja told reporters this week. "We lost 3-0 and if you saw the game, Portland had four shots on goal that game and scored three goals. And two of them were simply from a distraction by us. Now at the end of the day the results are what dictate if a team plays well or not, because that's what matters. But I always like to see (games) in every angle, and that one, tactically, was not a bad game."
Colorado came at Portland in that June 23 match early on but couldn't capitalize on the Timbers' sluggish start despite creating four dangerous attempts on goal in the first 11 minutes.
Portland awoke in the 12th minute when the Rapids fell asleep. Will Johnson caught the Rapids not ready on a quick re-start off a free kick and set up Frédéric Piquionne's goal. Johnson then scored one himself late in the half after Colorado failed to clear a punt by Portland goalkeeper Donovan Rickets. Johnson also played a role in the third goal when he picked off an errant pass which led to Ryan Johnson's goal.
"The mistakes we made were huge and obviously we were not sharp," Pareja said of the last meeting. "The first 15 minutes we had four chances to score, and I don't remember others games where we had that. Now I want to go with the mentality that Portland is difficult but is a team that we can beat, as well."
Obviously one of the Timbers' players to keep an eye on is midfielder Will Johnson, who also scored both of Portland's goal in the 2-2 draw in Colorado in March.
"Portland is a team that moves the ball well and they are dynamic in the middle," Pareja said. "We need to match up with that mobility in there. But I'm confident in our strengths as well, and I would like to see in this case, for Portland to be worried about what we're going to do."
Pareja will need to fill a void in the middle of the field as midfielder Nathan Sturgis is suspended due to yellow card accumulations.
"We have Martin (Rivero), (Dillon) Powers, (Anthony) Wallace, Nick (LaBrocca), and even Shane (O'Neill) as options to fill that spot," Pareja said. "I hope that the one who replaces Nathan will make it difficult for Nathan for the next game, that's the goal."
Friday's match kicks off at 8 p.m. MT on the NBC Sports Network.