Timbers vs. Rapids match preview: No rest for the wrecked
Still without Evander, the slumping Timbers stagger into Commerce City for their second game in four days.
The struggling and falling Portland Timbers head to Commerce City, Colorado to face the bottom-of-the-table Rapids (6:30 p.m. PT, streaming on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV), in game that might be a little rough on the eyes.
A look at the opposition
The only thing that could possibly buoy Timbers fans’ hopes for tomorrow is that one of the few teams in MLS that have been worse than the Timbers have been the Rapids.
Currently the leaders in the race-to-the-bottom for the Wooden Spoon, Colorado are dead last in MLS, on both points and points per game. They have just two wins on the season, and have collected just two points from their last nine games. They literally have not won a league game at home this season, and have the worst goal difference in the Western Conference.
Perhaps the biggest factor leading to Colorado’s inefficacy is their lack of goal scoring. They haven’t found the back of the net in four straight games, and one of their current joint-top leading scorers is a centerback — if that tells you anything about how Colorado’s season is going.
However, you could make the argument that Colorado has perhaps been bitten by bad luck with their goalscoring. They have amassed 23.8 expected goals according to FBref and have scored 14, suggesting that they are under-performing in that area.
That being said, one area the Rapids aren’t under-performing in is their defense. Their expected goals against number is 0.3 below their actual goals scored according to FBref, so their 29 goals conceded is as bad as advertised.
Colorado are a team that is in a miserable run of form, has maybe been a bit unlucky, but are still on the whole pretty bad.
So of course tomorrow will still be dicey for the Timbers.
Timbers team news & outlook
The last Timbers outing… didn’t go so well.
Portland showed little effort in their 4-1 loss to Minnesota on Saturday, and conceded 4+ goals for the third time this season.
What made the loss dispiriting, and what head coach Giovanni Savarese was most disappointed about afterward, were that essentially all of Minnesota’s goals came in moments of lapsed concentration from individual Timbers players.
“I think if we don’t have everyone pushing and putting the effort in the same way, it’s going to always be difficult,” Savarese said postgame. Particular players don’t
join the other guys that are giving everything on the field and those little moments and the little mistakes we make because of the stubbornness, then we find ourselves in a difficult situation.”
Indeed, those little mistakes doomed Portland on Saturday. Both of the Loons’ first half goals came within a six minute span, and their third and fourth goals came within a three minute span. There are of course factors that led to Portland becoming vulnerable, but overall Gio is right to be upset with the drop in effort from individuals on the team in defense.
Of course those defensive issues wouldn’t be as big of a concern if Portland had any semblance of an offense at the moment. The Timbers have scored just five goals in their past nine games, and haven’t scored more than once in any game that they have found the back of the net.
Franck Boli tallied his sixth goal of the season and made things interesting for about 15 minutes last time around, but it was the only real clear moment of danger Portland generated during the game.
So for as rough as Colorado’s offense has been, Portland isn’t one to talk all that much. They are equally as inert and ineffective in front of goal as their hosts, and if the Timbers want to have any hope of getting a result tomorrow — let alone start to climb up the table — addressing the offense needs to be priority number one.
It will be a tricky proposition tomorrow for a number of reasons. One is that the Timbers will still be without their star attacker Evander. The Brazilian served a retroactive one-game ban last weekend, but Savarese revealed in his pre-match media availability that Evander is dealing with a minor calf injury and Portland will be without his playmaking and goalscoring abilities tomorrow.
Making matters trickier still is that Portland is playing on extremely short rest — just two full days worth — and is playing at altitude in a stadium where they rarely have enjoyed much success. Portland last won in Colorado on Thanksgiving in the MLS Cup Playoff Conference Semifinals in 2021, and haven’t won a regular season game away at the Rapids since 2018.
Something that could help conquer the mountain the Timbers have to climb is Sebastian Blanco, who traveled to Colorado and will be available. Helping it still may be a sturdy Timbers midfield, as Diego Chara continues to put in sterling performances and Noel Caliskan had a very respectable first MLS start last weekend.
But all in all, despite the form of their opposition, tomorrow is yet another tough test for a Timbers team that have failed more of them that they have passed. They will have to keep mistakes to a minimum, finish off their attacking chances (because there might not be many!), and maybe get a little lucky if they hope to leave Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with a bang on July 4.
Projected Starting XIs
Rapids (4-4-2): Yarborough; Rosenberry, Maxso, Abubakar, Beitashour; Bassett, Ronan, Leyva, Lewis; Barrios, Cabral
Timbers (4-4-2): Ivacic; Mosquera, Zuparic, Miller, Bravo; Moreno, Chara, Paredes, Loria; Boli, Nathan
Look man — the Timbers kinda suck right now. The lack of goal scoring, the lack of effort, the lack of results… it’s made watching this team a slog right now.
I still believe there’s a respectable team down in there (somewhere), but it sure hasn’t come out any time recently. And it will be a tough ask for it to come out tomorrow, despite the fact that the Timbers will be playing one of the worst teams in the league.
I’ll predict a 0-0 draw where the amount of total shots on goal is less than the number of yellow cards shown, and everyone who watched the game regrets devoting precious hours of their life.