In their first meeting, Portland and Colorado didn't exactly rock the boat as far as expectations.

The Timbers looked very much like an expansion squad playing its first official match together on the road. The Rapids, naturally, looked like defending champs still riding high from an offseason spent sipping Coors Light out of the MLS Cup (or so I like to imagine).

That 3-1 Colorado clocking waaaaay back in March put a frosty ceiling atop the warm feelings surrounding Portland's big debut, and left many of the fans I saw meekly exiting the Bagdad that night shrugging, "Well, we are an expansion team, right?"

But much has changed since, and two streaking clubs are looking to get back to winning ways at 7:30 tonight (ROOT Sports, 750 AM) while Portland's ever-shifting expectations (from cuddly-expansion-doormat to homeland-security-experts to legit-playoff-contenders and back again) continue to wax, wain, ebb, flow and generally change on a per-game basis.

The Timbers (5-5-2) have dropped back-to-back matches for the first time since March, including their first loss at what had become the Fortress of Pane two weeks back against DC. The Rapids (4-3-7), meanwhile, have tied their last six matches (an MLS record that certainly wouldn't appear on anyone's tombstone) and have technically been winless and undefeated (ah, soccer) for more than a month since star forward Omar Cummings was injured against Houston.

Still, Portland should have no problem getting back to the "underdog mentality" against Colorado that brought them early success: Despite injuries, the Rapids are plenty dangerous behind striker (and former Portland Pilot) Conor Casey.

More thoughts after the jump, plus a quick *shaky video* chat with All-Star nominee Futty Danso and EXTRA TIME links to help you steer clear of Class IV ignorance about tonight's match.

In honor of the Rose festival, the Timbers will wear their Rose City Red kits for the first time at home. But something tells me Portland fans would rather see its team honor fleet week by scoring like some sailors tonight.

If anything, the Timbers can't afford a slow start. In the opener, Portland let Colorado into the net eight minutes into the match, and back-to-back goals 20 minutes later doomed Portland less than one half into their MLS debut. One Timber who didn't play in the opener but who's had a big impact since has been defensive stalwart and MLS All-Star nominee Futty, who called this week's game "a must win."

I grabbed a few minutes with Futty after Friday's training and chatted him up about the All-Star nod, how he found out about the honor (teammate Rodrigo Lopez broke the news), how his dad serves as his unofficial publicist and whether or not he'll campaign for a spot on the squad:

EXTRA TIME! Links to rapidly read before first kick.
• No less than a "revolution in tactics" will be required if Portland is to hold off Colorado, says "Brenaldo" of Timberlandia in an excellent pre-match read.
• Colorado has "been hit hard by injuries and inconsistent play," says Geoffrey C. Arnold at The O.
• Tonight pits two teams who've "toiled near the middle of the Western Conference standings," says Timbers Insider Kelly McLain, who talks about the importance of possession moving forward.
• Geoff Gibson of Stumptown Footy scouts the Rapids while "UZ" of Burgundy Wave breaks down the Timbers.
• The Rapids will look to "exploit any uncertainties the Timbers players may be feeling after their two straight defeats," says MLSsoccer's Nick Thomas.
• The size of the Timbers' pitch is again a talking point for an opponent, notes Paul Danzer of The Columbian.
• USSF holdoverBright Dike is back at practice a bit earlier than expected, notes MLSsoccer's Doug Binder, who says the strapping striker could return in as little as two weeks from a ruptured Achilles.
• The Timbers' official site has broadcaster John Strong's points to watch, while Brian Costello says the midfield match-up will be key.'s pundits are split in their predictions for tonight, noting Portland will "need to rediscover some of the magic" to get back on track.