Rapids, Timbers meet in matchup of rejuvenated squads
Field Level Mediaon
At the end of what already has been a huge week for the club, the Portland Timbers will look to pile it on when they play host to the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.
Following a 1-0 victory over New York City FC on Sunday at Yankee Stadium, the Timbers took a cross-country flight and dispatched host Los Angeles FC 1-0 on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup.
"As I have said a lot of times, we play our game, we are very tough to play against," Timbers defender Zarek Valentin told reporters. "... I think (Wednesday) was probably what I would consider the best defensive performance, for the entire team."
The victory over LAFC avenged a 3-2 MLS defeat on June 1, which was also the long-awaited reveal of Providence Park's renovations. Now comes the arrival of the Rapids in a match between two of the more-improved sides in the league.
After starting the season 0-5-1 as part of a 12-game road trip to begin 2019 as stadium renovations were being completed, the Timbers are 7-3-1 in MLS play and 10-3-1 across all competitions (with seven of those 10 victories coming on the road).
The Rapids were also abysmal to start the season, which opened at home in the snow with a 3-3 tie against the Timbers on March 2.
Colorado was 0-9-2 before finally earning a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on May 19, the start of a 5-1-2 run. That one loss, however, came in the Rapids' most recent game, a 2-1 loss at home July 4 against the New England Revolution.
Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey knows this meeting between the Rapids and Timbers will be far different that the previous one, and not because of a lack of snow.
"A lot has happened since then for sure," Casey told the media. "We're a lot different team now, they're a different team. They are in very good form, as we are. We're playing away, in a difficult place to play for sure, but at the end of the day it's about us. We have to continue to improve and pick up points."
Casey confirmed this week that forward Jonathan Lewis will be available after his return from U.S. Men's National Team duties at the Gold Cup.
Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese missed Wednesday's game in order to return to Italy for a family emergency and his status for Saturday's game is not yet known. Assistant coach Carlos Llamosa led the team against LAFC.