The Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids are set to do battle in a crucial Western Conference contest at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday as both sides attempt to climb up the table.
Colorado, leading Portland by just three points, is in the midst of a two-game losing streak to Western Conference foes, falling 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps FC before a 2-1 home loss to the San Jose Earthquakes last time out. The winning goal on both occasions was scored in the final 10 minutes of the match.
"This is a moment when we have to see the personality of the group. We want to see the personality of the players that we have," said Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja. "It's a long season. Sure, at this moment we are disappointed at the result, and getting two loses in a row is not easy especially this one when you're at home and you were leading 1-0. We all feel like something is not coming along."
Omar Cummings made his first appearance for the Rapids since May 6 as he returned from an ankle injury against the 'Quakes. He entered the match for Conor Casey, who was making his first start since May 19.
"We're 15 games into the season," defender Drew Moor said. "We're getting guys back from injuries, some important key members of this squad, who are able to adapt as soon as they step in. So there are no excuses as far as system or formations. Everybody has been integrated in and everybody is ready to go."
Portland, meanwhile, is coming off of an impressive win in its last outing as it edged Seattle Sounders FC, 2-1, on Sunday in the latest installment of the Cascadia Cup.
The Timbers were flying from the start, grabbing a two-goal lead inside the opening 25 minutes thanks to Kris Boyd and David Horst.
The Rose City club is in a good run of form, winning two straight and losing just once in its last six contests.
"I think that when you go through a little bit of a barren spell that we did. Let's not forget, we're not getting pummeled 4-0 every week, and battled and embarrassed," Timbers head coach John Spencer said. "We've created a lot of chances in the last few weeks and the last few games, and just not managed to put the ball in the back of the net for whatever reason. [Sunday], we get two opportunities and we go 2-0 up."
While Boyd knows that it was a must-win situation against a rival, he hopes that the level of play continues into the match at Colorado as the Timbers set out to show the league that they are a force to be reckon with.
"We came into the game knowing that we needed to get the three points," Boyd said. "That was the most important thing. To get the fans back on our side, to get everybody off our backs and prove to people that we can play."