The Portland Timbers aren't playing like a squad that advanced to the MLS Cup last season.
The struggling Timbers have just one victory in their past 10 matches (1-5-4) as they enter a crucial home game against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night.
Portland (3-6-7, 16 points) lost in penalty kicks to New York City FC in last season's title game but has been one of the worst teams in the league this season.
Timbers coach Gio Savarese is well aware his squad needs to quickly turn around its fortunes.
"We need to be better in the second half of the season," Savarese said. "We need to get points game after game and make sure we can continue to compete. It is extremely important to bring the right energy, especially in our home games, to get as many points as we can."
Portland may be facing a team it can beat in the Rapids (5-6-4, 19 points). Colorado is woeful away from home and sports an 0-5-2 road mark this season.
Overall, the Rapids are just 2-4-1 over their past seven matches after tying NYCFC 1-1 last Sunday in New York.
Colorado has scored just one goal in four consecutive matches and the franchise has brought back midfielder Sam Nicholson in hopes of getting more offensive production.
Nicholson had four goals and six assists in 48 games for Colorado over two-plus seasons from 2018-20 before going overseas and playing for the Bristol Rovers of the English Football League Two. He had 14 goals and eight assists in 75 matches in England.
"Sam is a really, really good player and he's a really good teammate," Rapids coach Robin Fraser said. "He's great in the locker room. He's another player who can beat people. Players who can beat people are worth their weight in goal."
Diego Rubio leads the Rapids with seven goals.
Bill Tuiloma leads Portland with five goals. Yimmi Chara has four goals, including the lone tally in a 1-1 road tie against the Los Angeles Galaxy on June 18.
The Rapids defeated the Timbers 2-0 on April 30 in the Mile High altitude of Colorado. Rubio and Mark-Anthony Kaye scored the goals.
--Field Level Media