Rapids-Timbers Preview

The Associated Press

The Colorado Rapids have been on a roll since they last played in Portland. It might be hard for them to keep it going considering most teams who visit there don't fare well.

Colorado has lost only once since they last faced the Timbers, who will look to extend an 11-game unbeaten streak at Jeld-Wen Field and pass the Rapids in the Western Conference standings.

The Rapids (12-8-9) fell 3-0 in Portland on June 23, which stands as their most lopsided loss of the MLS season.

The teams' only other meeting this year was a 2-2 draw on March 30 in Colorado, the last of a five-game winless streak to open the Rapids' season.

Recently, things have been quite different. Colorado is 7-1-4 since the blowout loss in Portland, with its 25 points during that span ranking second in MLS only to league-best Seattle's 28.

The Rapids now finds themselves in the middle of the West's five-team playoff pack after a 2-1, come-from-behind home win over FC Dallas on Saturday.

"It's fantastic going down the last few games of the season, pushing for the playoff," forward Atiba Harris told the Rapids' official website. "I think that's huge for us to have a little bit of separation."

The Timbers (10-5-13) return home looking to prevent any further separation and add some comfort to their iffy playoff position. That cause could be helped by their next two games and four of five coming at Jeld-Wen Field, where Portland has gone 8-0-3 in league play since a 2-1 loss to Montreal on March 9 in its second home date of the season.

Currently fifth in the West but with a chance to move into third with a victory, the Timbers are two points behind the Rapids with a game in hand and one back of fourth-place Los Angeles.

"Every game is important for us because we want to get into the playoffs and we're in the last spot and we want to keep it that way," goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts told the Timbers' official website. "We want to push our way up and get away from the bottom."

Ricketts enters Friday with things seeming to have calmed some in his own penalty area. After a three-match stretch from Aug. 21-30 in which Portland conceded eight goals, it has allowed just one in two matches this month.

Backup keeper Milos Kocic defeated Toronto FC 4-0 on Sept. 7, then Ricketts returned from the Jamaica national team to make a pair of saves in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Chivas USA.

Colorado hasn't scored more than two goals in 11 straight matches but has been shut out only once in that span and has blanked five of those opponents. The eight goals the Rapids have allowed since July 4 are the fewest in the league.

Will Johnson has scored three of Portland's five goals in this season series.

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