Rapids ready for Timbers in rare home-and-home battle

Oscar Pareja

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Rapids, meet the Timbers. Timbers, meet the Rapids.

Over the next five days, the Western Conference foes will face off twice, starting Friday night at JELD-WEN Field in Portland (10:30 pm ET, NBC Sports, Live Chat on MLSsoccer.com), and plenty is on the line for the two scuffling clubs.

The Rapids sit just two points ahead of the last-placed Timbers in the standings, and the overall loser of the home-and-home will likely earn the dubious honor of becoming the last-placed team in the West. And while a 2-10-1 swoon has seen the Rapids drop 11 points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings with just eight games to go, the Rapids are still maintaining hope of making a late run to push their way back into contention.

“I think we have to have perseverance in what we’ve been doing well,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com this week. “We’re a team that’s still alive, and the points are on the table for the taking and we have to fight for them. We have to keep intensifying and building off all the positive things that we’ve done. That’s the mentality we have to have.”

The Rapids have dominated the Timbers in three matches since Portland joined MLS last year, going 3-0-0 and outscoring the newcomers 7-1 in that span. Included in that record is a 3-0 takedown of Portland on June 30 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where Colorado led 2-0 after 25 minutes and went on to cruise to an easy three points.

Also for the visiting Rapids, new midfield signing Hendry Thomas could make his debut in burgundy on Friday night. The Honduras international, who signed from EPL side Wigan FC last week, spent much of his first week as a Rapid to adjust to Colorado’s mile high altitude, and said he feels ready to make his anticipated debut.

“I feel that I’m better and that I can play 90 minutes,” Thomas said this week. “I’m going to keep working and waiting what Oscar [Pareja] has to say about me playing.”

The Rapids dropped a 4-1 decision on Saturday night to the San Jose Earthquakes in their last match.

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.