Pre-Game: @ Portland

by Brendan Wyatt

It’s a big week as the Rapids are in Portland tonight to take on the Timbers. After that it’s on to Salt Lake for a Rocky Mountain Cup.  Going into tonight’s match the Rapids are 7-7-3 against the Timbers with a disheartening 1-6-0 record in Portland.  For the last couple years, each game with PTFC has been decided by one goal, I don’t expect this game to be much different; though there is always a chance that this Rapids team has a break out performance.

The Rapids took care of business in June against Portland winning 2-1, both Dom Badji and Alan Gordon scored.  It is likely that one or both of them could get on the score sheet today.  Shkelzen Gashi is nearing 100% fit and he scored more on the road than at home last year, so we can hope he does that tonight.  One other thing to hope for, or look for tonight is the debut of Stefan Aigner; it’s not just the fans who hopes to see him soon, even the FO is expecting him to get some end of game minutes during this long stretch on the road.

The key against Portland is to not be behind in the 75th minute.  The Timbers are 10-0-4 when leading with 15 minutes to go.  The Rapids have proven in the past that they can win games late, as that may be the case against the Timbers tonight.

As for the lineup, I do not expect a garage sale like we have seen the team do in the past when playing more than one game a week.  Coach Steve Cooke knows full well what game awaits the Rapids on Saturday, but is going at it one game at a time so only Portland is on his mind.   Some guys still may need rest from the DC game last week so the likes of Luis Gil and Josh Gatt are likely to start tonight.

While the Rapids history in Portland is against them, so is pretty much everything else but that won’t get these boys down.  With each day, each game the burgundy boys are figuring out all over again how to play their very best game – together.

If you have the urge to catch this game with your tailgate friends hit up the Bulldog downtown or the Blue Spruce down south.  It’s a West coast game so don’t forget that kick off is at 8:30pm.

Predicted starting XI: Howard, Hairston, Watts, Sjoberg, Miller, Gatt, Gil, Azira, Gashi, Badji, Doyle

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