Were the Colorado Rapids able to bottle the confidence claimed from the come-from-behind MLS win over Columbus Crew SC two weeks ago, then they may want to sprinkle on the socks of every player ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Portland Timbers at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (TICKETS).
The never-say-die grit displayed throughout much of 2016 has again been evident in recent times, whether it were the backs-to-the-wall win over Sporting Kansas City, or the consecutive comebacks - against Crew SC and in midweek over Oklahoma City Energy FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Portland will present a problem. Caleb Porter’s side arrive in Commerce City buoyed by last weekend’s 2-0 win over FC Dallas. That game was at home, where the Timbers are 5-1-2. On their travels, the team from Oregon is less dominant. They are 2-4-1 on the road, and have lost the last three away from Providence Park, while scoring just one goal.
That road record in 2017, though, is better than all of 2016, when their stats away from home were the opposite to the Rapids’ inside DSGP. The Timbers were 0-11-6 on the road. In Colorado, the Rapids were 11-0-6.
But in Fanendo Adi they have a genuine, and consistent, threat. He stands on 49 regular season goals in MLS, from just 104 appearances (85 starts). And he came closest to scoring of any player in the first meeting last year, when the Rapids escaped with a goalless draw on July 4, in what was Tim Howard’s debut.
The Rapids’ previous home game against Portland - last October - ended in a 1-0 win, which secured their spot in the playoffs. It was, though, their only win in the last seven between the two Western Conference teams (1-4-2).
Bobby Burling missed the match with Crew SC due to suspension. He is sidelined with a foot injury for four to six weeks, and will watch from the wings at the weekend. Brighter news is that Howard is back in contention, having been on international duty.
Rapids: Bobby Burling (out - foot), Shkëlzen Gashi (questionable - hamstring), Nana Boateng (questionable - back).
Timbers: Gbenga Arokoyo (out - Achilles), Chance Myers (out - hamstring), Jack Barmby (questionable - ankle), Darren Mattocks (questionable - adductor), David Guzmán (out - suspended).
HOW TO FOLLOW
Radio: Altitude Sports Radio AM 950 (English); La Invasora 87.7FM (Spanish)
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant 1: Frank Anderson
Assistant 2: Jonathan Johnson
Fourth Official: Nima Saghafi
WHAT TO KNOW
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.
After winning two of their first three road games (2-1-0), Portland are winless in their last four away games (0-3-1), which includes a three-game losing streak in which they have scored just one goal.
Micheal Azira has 44 interceptions this season, the most in MLS. Azira is one of three players with 40 or more interceptions this season.
Fanendo Adi has four goals in the last 15 minutes of matches, the most in the league over that time period.
In the eight games Mohammed Saeid has started this season, Colorado is averaging 1.0 goals and 0.8 goals conceded per 90. In the four matches he has not started, the Rapids are scoring 0.7 and conceding 1.8 per 90.
Portland’s Darlington Nagbe is completing 90.7 per cent of his passes in the opponent’s half of the field, the best percentage of any MLS player with at least 300 passes attempted in that area of the pitch.