Timbers MatchDay: vs. Rapids

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



Colorado at Timbers

Kickoff: 7 p.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field.

TV/radio: NBC Sports Network (Cable ch. 32/732) / AM 750.

Tickets: www.portlandtimbers.com; 503-553-5555. A sellout is anticipated.

Where they stand: Portland (10 wins, 13 ties and 5 losses) is fifth in the West with 43 points. Colorado (12-9-8, 45 points) is third in the West.

Head to head: This is the last of three meetings in the regular season between the teams. They played to a 2-2 draw on March 30 in Colorado and the Timbers won 3-0 at Jeld-Wen Field on June 23.

Timbers story: With six games remaining in the regular season, the Timbers hold the fifth — and last — playoff spot in the Western Conference. The good news is that four of their final six matches are at home, where Portland is unbeaten (eight wins, four draws) since a loss to Montreal in the second game of the season. The challenge is that the four teams that will visit Jeld-Wen Field over the next month occupy the four slots ahead of Portland. A win today would vault the Timbers ahead of the Rapids, who have played one more game than the Timbers. The urgency for a win this week increased when Portland played last-place Chivas USA to a 1-1 draw last Saturday. Caleb Porter should have most of his players available for selection. Midfielder Diego Valeri, who has made a quick impact off the bench in the second half of his last two games, could be ready to return to full-time status after nursing an adductor muscle strain. Valeri’s 12 assists is tied for the league lead, and his seven goals is one behind Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe.

Colorado story: Since their June loss at Portland, the Rapids have posted seven wins, four ties and one loss to vault into playoff position. Colorado is shooting for a third consecutive win. Uruguyan Vincente Sanchez, signed in August, gives the Rapids a dynamic attacking player on the wing. First-year goalkeeper Clint Irwin has set a Colorado franchise record with 10 shutouts. Rookie centerback Shane O’Neill, a homegrown player, has been a consistent force in the Rapids’ defense. Rookie Deshorn Brown leads Colorado with seven goals.