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Game 20: Away to Portland(ia)

One thing’s for sure - the weather will be much warmer this time.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, we’re reaching that interesting point in the year, when we stop looking at teams for the first time and get to look at them for the second time. This year, the Colorado Rapids opened the season with the coldest game in MLS history against the visiting Portland Timbers. Since then, both teams are beginning to discover their identity and looking at putting their pasts behind them. Let’s take a look at what exactly they’ve been up to since March 2nd.

The Timbers had a rough start to 2019, which wasn’t completely unexpected. With their home field, Providence Park, under construction for renovations and closed for the beginning of the season, the Timbers had a 12-game road trip from March until June 1st. Starting with the Rapids and ending with a match against Philadelphia Union, they managed to get four wins and two draws, but a five-game losing streak as well, for six losses in total. Since then, they’ve added an additional three wins and two losses.

Now, with 23 points over 17 games and the majority of the rest of the season at home, Portland is in a very good position to push themselves above the playoff line. Providence Park is a legendary MLS stadium and the Timbers are very good at defending it.

The Timbers have only had one player leave and one player come in since we last played them, but both of them are pretty serious changes. David Guzman was traded to the Columbus Crew, where he reunited with his old coach Caleb Porter in exchange for an international roster spot. He had been a mainstay with the Timbers since 2017, so seeing him leave was a bit of a shock for the Portland fanbase. The decision made a lot more sense when they Timbers announced their new signing—Argentinian striker Brian Fernandez, who was brought in as a Designated Player from Liga MX club Nexaca.

Fernandez hasn’t had a lot of time to adjust to the Timbers, but he has made a serious impact in the short time he has been there. Six goals in six games (five from the start), good enough to set a record for most goals in consecutive games for an MLS newcomer. He is a big offensive threat that our defense needs to have a plan for. Beyond that, the Timbers have still been fairly average for both goals allowed and goals for.

It’s hard to judge the ‘Pids too much for their performance against New England over the 4th (and into the 5th!) of July. Horrible weather can seriously throw players off, as we have seen many times this year. But, on the other hand, we need to play much better than that to get three points out of Portland. A challenge, but certainly nothing that we can’t overcome. Jonathan Lewis should be back with the team after spending time with the USMNT for the Gold Cup, so expect our offense to be on point. Let’s hope for a great game that puts the Timbers in their place!