The Portland Timbers are off to Commerce City to take on the Colorado Rapids, putting their current five game winning streak on the line against the top team in Major League Soccer. As the second half of the Timbers' 2016 season kicks off, a result against the Rapids could leave the Timbers in good position to move on up the table.
Coming in to today's match, the Timbers are somewhat banged up and some important players might just be out due to injury. Of course Dairon Asprilla will not be available following his departure back to Colombia, but the Timbers are also in danger of missing goalkeeper Jake Gleeson, center back and captain Liam Ridgewell, and the "Maestro" Diego Valeri to injury. Despite the return of Darlington Nagbe, if the Timbers are missing any of those three players -- let alone possibly missing all of them -- it would be a serious blow to the spine of the team.
Regardless of whom the Timbers are able to run out, they will face a stiff test from the Rapids on both sides of the ball. The Colorado side has not been extremely prolific in the attack, scoring only nineteen goals so far this season, but it is their lockdown defense that has made them the best in the league so far. The Rapids have allowed only eleven goals through sixteen games, a pace that will set records in MLS if they can keep it up until the end of the season.
In order to break down as defensively compact a side as the Rapids, the Timbers will need to get some top-shelf performances from their attackers. Fanendo Adi has all shown that he is among the league's most talented attacking players, leading the Timbers to their current mark of 28 goals scored, but he will need help from more mercurial attacking players like Nagbe and Lucas Melano, whose recent run of form has impressed mightily.
Watch it on: ROOT Sports
Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. PT at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, CO
Portland Timbers: 6-6-5, 6th place in the Western Conference
Colorado Rapids: 9-2-5, 1st place in the Western Conference