Rapids still battling injuries in run-up to Portland match
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — At the same time as the Portland Timbers are trying to break out of a two-game losing streak, the Colorado Rapids are looking at Saturday’s game between the two sides (10:30 pm ET, Galavision) as a chance to break out of their own rut — a league-record six draws on the bounce.
Timbers defender Mamadou Danso was quoted in The Oregonian as saying the game was a “must win” for his team to get out of the losing habit.
Rapids’ head coach Gary Smith doesn’t see it quite that way. Three points are always welcome, especially when you haven’t had them for a while. But he and his players know it will be a tough proposition at JELD-WEN Field.
“It’s a very important game for us but it will be a question of how quickly we adapt to the pitch and to the atmosphere there,” Smith explained.
While the Rapids are very keen to break out of the winless run as soon as possible, Smith said he is looking at the next two games to get at least one win. Those upcoming pair of matches are the Timbers on Saturday and then a home tilt against the LA Galaxy next weekend.
The head coach sees similarities between his squad and John Spencer’s Portland: both teams are consistently competitive and disciplined, and Portland have a target man in Kenny Cooper and a smaller, speedier forward in Jorge Perlaza — a combination that mirrors that of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings.
Unfortunately for the Rapids, Cummings will not be making the trip to Portland as he continues to recover from his sprained ankle.
The good news for Smith is that he will have Caleb Folan available. The big striker has not started a game since limping out of the scoreless draw with the New England Revolution May 7.
Defender Marvell Wynne remains out but fellow backliners Drew Moor (hamstring) and Kosuke Kimura (groin) appear to be fit and ready to go.
Smith hopes to exploit any uncertainties the Timbers players may be feeling after their two straight defeats.
“When you are playing well, it gives you a real lift to have the home crowd behind you. But if you are not playing so well, they can turn and that can be new for the players,” he said. “That said, I’m sure we’ll have 20,000 [Timbers] fans screaming down our neck.”