Rapids-Timbers Preview

Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter is calling Friday night's game a "must-win" with his club owning the Western Conference's second-worst record.

Winning - or losing - has been something his team hasn't done much of at home.

The Timbers are winless in their last five at home but should be buoyed since the Colorado Rapids come to town with three players suspended.

Portland (4-6-9) has 21 points - five shy of a West playoff spot. The Timbers have two draws and two defeats in their last four games overall following Sunday's 2-0 loss at league-leading Seattle.

"It's hard to know if it's a must-win but we're going to approach it as a must-win," Porter said. "Certainly the home games, in those games you have the best chance to win."

Portland, however, is tied with Chicago for the fewest home wins in MLS with one. The Timbers have lost twice at Providence Park, with the other seven matches ending in draws.

"We haven't been doing well at home so now we're desperate for points because right now we have to get the points on the board," said goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, who has faced a conference-high 62 shots.

Colorado (7-5-6) learned that midfielder Shane O'Neill has been suspended for a hard challenge in Saturday's 3-3 draw with Philadelphia. Forward Vicente Sanchez and midfielder Nick LaBrocca were already banned for this contest.

"We're going to have to make a few changes, suspensions and a couple knocks," coach Pablo Mastroeni said. "But again it's about defining who you are as a team, the identity of who you are as a team. And it's a great opportunity for guys to step up and make a difference."

The coach said he worked extensively this week on defense, with his team allowing seven goals over its last four games. The Rapids rallied from two goals down against the Union as Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown scored in the last 11 minutes.

"Coming off our last game, we really want to be a bit more tidy defensively and not allow so many gaps because of our commitment to try to win the game and go forward and be a bit more aware of those gaps," Mastroeni said.

Brown is tied with Sanchez for the team lead with six goals.

Both scored in Colorado's 2-0 home victory over Portland on March 22 in which the teams finished with 10 men apiece.

The Rapids have been shut out in losing their last three visits to Portland, which outscored Colorado 4-0 in two home wins last year with Rodney Wallace assisting on each of the goals. Wallace has played three times this season as he works his way back from a torn ACL.

Colorado, 0-3-2 in its last five on the road, is wary of the hostile environment it faces Friday.

"They (the fans) bring it every game, the energy in that stadium is amazing," defender Marc Burch said. "They bring a good energy when they play at home as well. They've been unlucky to get some bad results at home."

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