Portland, OR (Sports Network) - The Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids are two teams slowly heading in opposite directions.
Portland has lost just five times all season, a feat that positioned the club within the top-three of the Western Conference for much of the campaign. But a rather poor run of form has seen the Timbers collect two wins from their last nine league games, dropping the club to fifth place in the West on 43 points where it sits just three points above the postseason cutoff.
Colorado, meanwhile, started the season slow but has come on strong of late, dropping just one of its last 12 matches to rise to third place on 45 points.
The two sides will tussle at Jeld-Wen Field on Friday as they jostle for favorable positioning in the playoff picture.
The Timbers were held to a 1-1 draw at Chivas USA in their last outing, the type of result that has plagued the club all season. Portland has the fewest losses in Major League Soccer, but its MLS-high 13 draws has seen the club drop valuable points on a consistent basis.
"There was a bit of casualness at times out of our play," head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. "They're professionals and they understand that part of being a professional is showing up with the right mentality."
Colorado, by comparison, has certainly been showing up with the right mentality each week. The Rapids fell behind in last week's meeting with FC Dallas at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, but they managed to overturn the deficit with two goals in the span of six second-half minutes to get a 2-1 victory.
"I thought in the first half we played very well," Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said after the victory. "I thought we spread the ball the way we wanted and had the control of the game all the time. We didn't have too many options, but I can still remember three options: Atiba (Harris) from a cross, Atiba just led the ball that Nathan (Sturgis) almost scored, and I thought Edson (Buddle) almost had another one, so we had good chances in the first half.
"Second half was more exciting, that's probably why we can remember the second half more because the energy and what happened, but the first half was well played by us. It was good. I enjoyed the team. And then second half, through the motions and what Vicente (Sanchez) brought to the team and all that talent, the people need to come and see this team."
Friday's meeting will be the third between Portland and Colorado this season. The Timbers hold the upper hand, getting a 2-2 draw at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on March 30 before claiming a resounding 3-0 home win at Jeld-Wen on June 23.