Rapids vs. Timbers - Three Keys to the Game

PORTLAND, OR - JUNE 11: Jorge Perlaza #15 of the Portland Timbers leaps over a sliding Tyrone Marshall #34 of the Colorado Rapids during the second half of the game at Jeld-Wen Field on June 11, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. The Rapids won the game 1-0. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Colorado needs to put those two last games behind them as they head toward another six pointer, this time against the Portland Timbers. The Rapids won both games last season against the Timbers, but both teams seem to have lost some of their 2011 punch so there's no telling what will happen in their first of three meetings this year.

Fortunately, the Rapids are getting closer to full health and may even have a mostly first-choice team out there on the field. At least, we can assume that we'll be seeing the best players that the Rapids have to offer on the pitch against Portland after a week and a half of rest.

So this time, I'm going to just eschew the whole three keys thing and just say the three player pairings on the Rapids that this game is going to rest on.

Casey/Cummings - No disrespect to Tony Cascio, Brian Mullan or whoever gets slotted into that third striker position, but this game is going to be all about the Conor Casey and Omar Cummings hook ups. We haven't seen 2010's best striker duo on the field together in quite some time -- in fact, one of the last times they actually played together was 2011's home opener against the Timbers! Having Martin Rivero getting the ball forward to them isn't going to hurt matters either.

Moor/Wynne - This one's more about their health than it is about their play. We know that a healthy Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor will play well, they always have. If either of them goes down though, we have a problem.

You know why, don't even pretend.

Rivero/??? - I'd assume that the ??? spot would be taken by Jaime Castrillon, but you never know. With Jamie Smith coming back at full tilt and Castrillon being a bit up and down in recent performances, we could see a Rivero/Smith super service fest out there.

Either way, those two will be getting the ball forward, and the Rapids are almost certainly going to need to score more than one goal in this game to win it. It's up to the attacking midfield corps, who were less than stellar against San Jose and misfired too much against Vancouver, to help get the ball into the net. Especially if it's Rivero/Smith, we should see great chances galore.

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