BEAVERTON, Ore. – The Portland Timbers will be able to draw on recent history in scouting their match Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids – very recent.
The two teams met just five nights ago when the Timbers won 1-0 last Friday at JELD-WEN Field. And with just two training sessions under their belt since then, the Timbers departed for Denver after a brief kick-around Tuesday at the team's training facility.
"We just have to try to build on our confidence that we have right now," Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe told MLSsoccer.com, referring to the team's first two-game winning streak of 2012. "We've been playing well the past month or so. Now just go there and stay within the system and try to do our best and play how we play."
Nagbe said Friday's game, in addition to a valuable three points, was an intelligence-gathering session. He said they'll have to adjust to their defensive to counter wingers Tony Cascio and Brian Mullan, who gave them problems along with Argentine midfielder Martín Rivero. That trio created some long stretches of Colorado possession, especially after Portland tallied their lone goal right before halftime.
"I feel if we come out and do what we did [on Friday] and just keep the ball better we'll be OK," Nagbe said.
If that's the case, the Timbers will accomplish something that has eluded them all season: a win on the road. Portland are winless in 12 games away from JELD-WEN, a total which includes nine losses.
For interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson, a road win is next on his transformational checklist.
"I think we have to look at the momentum and the confidence," Wilkinson said. "For us, we have to go in, we have to play a little bit better than we did in the second half [Friday night], but I think we're capable. And for me, it's another box that as a group and a team we need to tick.
“We haven't gone into Colorado and done well, so this is an opportunity for us to show that we are maturing as a team and that we don't have to go back to the drawing board, that we can continue to progress as a team, and that's very, very important for us."
The last time Portland played at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, they suffered a 3-0 defeat on June 30. A week later, former head coach John Spencer was fired.
This time the Timbers come in with a more possession-orientated, 4-2-3-1 formation – which has resulted in seven goals in their past four games. And coming in riding a two-game winning streak, the Timbers also have a chance to win three straight for the first time in the club's MLS existence.
"We have to keep looking to develop this group," Wilkinson said. "I think we've played some good football, but now it's can we play good football and get wins on a regular basis."