Robin Fraser is continuing to work with the Colorado Rapids in a bid to improve their attacking output, recognising Saturday’s opponents the Portland Timbers have shown how ruthless an MLS team can be.
The Rapids have repeatedly failed to take their chances in the past few weeks, most recently drawing 0-0 at home to Charlotte FC.
More effective play in the final third continues to be coach Fraser’s focus, as he revealed looking ahead to the Portland game.
“Guys have been extremely diligent in training and are, through some pretty good coordinated attacks, creating goalscoring chances,” he said.
“We just need to keep doing that.
“We just keep working at it, and we keep working on the finishing part of it, and we’ll finish off some of these chances and capitalise on some good attacks.”
If Colorado cannot improve this week, Fraser expects they will be punished by a Timbers outfit not generally known for their profligacy – even if their past two games have also ended goalless.
“They’re one of the best, if not the best counter-attacking team in the league,” he said, “and they’ve done it for years, where they’ve absorbed a lot of pressure and the second you give them any kind of a break, they turn it into a goal.
“So, for us, our shape behind the ball is very important, and what we do behind their attacks to slow down their transition I think is going to be really critical.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Colorado Rapids – Michael Barrios
The Rapids had 11 attempts without hitting the target once against Charlotte, yet Barrios, playing in an attacking position, failed to contribute even to that. He did not register an attempt in an hour of play, although he did create two chances. Whether by scoring or assisting, the Rapids need players like Barrios to chip in.
Portland Timbers – Jaroslaw Niezgoda
Faith in forward Niezgoda appears to be waning. Having made the most of limited minutes in the 2020 and 2021 seasons, he has been handed a more prominent role this year and scored only twice in nine matches, including eight starts. Whether in the line-up or from the bench, Niezgoda must start to have an impact.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– The Timbers ended a five-match winless run against Colorado (D3 L2) with a 1-0 road victory in last season’s playoffs. The win was only Portland’s third victory in Colorado (D4 L7, including playoffs) and just their second clean sheet (0-0 draw in 2016).
– Colorado’s scoreless draw with Charlotte on Saturday extended their regular season home unbeaten run to a team record 20 games (W11 D9), the seventh-longest such run in MLS history. The Rapids did lose at home to Portland in last season’s Conference Semifinals.
– The Timbers have played consecutive scoreless draws for the third time in the club’s MLS history and the first since July 2016. Only one team in MLS history has played three straight goalless matches: Colorado in their first three games of the 2015 season.
– Gyasi Zardes made his Rapids debut on Saturday after being acquired in a trade from Columbus late last week. Zardes has scored 54 regular season goals since 2018, when he first joined the Crew, third-most in MLS and more than any other American in that time.
– Portland have won seven of their past 12 away matches (D2 L3, including playoffs), including losing only one of their past six on the road (W3 D2). The Timbers had recorded just one win their previous 13 away matches (D4 L8) dating back to October 2020.