After three straight losses, the Portland Timbers are staring at the sharp jaws of adversity.
The Colorado Rapids handed the Timbers a 1-0 defeat Saturday night at Jeld-Wen Field, and things do not get any easier for Portland next week. The Timbers will face MLS Eastern Conference co-leader New York Red Bulls at Jeld-Wen at 7 p.m. Sunday.
After that, Portland returns to the road - where it hasn't won - to face F.C. Dallas on Saturday, June 25.
Timbers defender David Horst said he is confident that the club will find a way out of its tailspin.
'This is a very strong, tight-knit locker room,' Horst said after the Colorado loss in stoppage time. 'We're not going to let anything like a loss or three losses in a row or anything like that get in our way. It's a long season. We can't let those things bother us.'
• As he went up for a header against Colorado's Caleb Folan, Timbers defender Mamadou 'Futty' Danso wrenched his left shoulder. He was carted off on a stretcher and will miss two to three weeks.
Horst, the former starter, will take his spot.
'He's another good body, good athlete,' Timbers coach John Spencer said, of Horst. 'He was getting in good form and good fitness. And then he rolled his ankle in training one day after playing two games. So that gave Futty the chance to come in. Now it's up to David to grab the opportunity with both hands and stay on the team.'
The irony that Horst lost his job to Danso because of an injury and now is back in the lineup because of an injury to Danso did not escape Horst.
'It's bad luck,' Horst said. 'There's never excitement about a player that's been starting and doing well to get injured. I feel really sorry for Futty, because he's been playing extremely well, and you've just got to hope for a quick recovery. I have to play well in his stead, and hopefully the team does well.'
•• Midfielder Darlington Nagbe returned to the starting lineup on Saturday.
The Timbers' No. 2 SuperDraft pick missed the first few games of the season after undergoing sports hernia surgery. Nagbe has been plagued with a sore groin throughout the season. He did not play in Portland's last home match against D.C. United and played only the final 20 minutes of last week's match at Chivas USA.
Nagbe played 77 minutes Saturday before being taken out for Sal Zizzo. Nagbe took three shots, putting one on frame. Spencer said it was apparent that there was some rust in the rookie's game.
'He had some good chances to put the ball in the back of the net,' Spencer said. 'If he played more games, then maybe he puts that in. But it's his first game back in a few weeks, and he handled himself pretty well.'
Nagbe, who said he played pain-free, smiled widely when he was asked how it felt to be back on the pitch.
'It felt great to get out there,' he said. 'I was excited to be back out there.'
••• Poor Ryan Pore. The midfielder who was the heart and soul of the Timbers' Division-2 side last season began the club's inaugural MLS season as the starting midfielder. He was soon benched and has been getting only spot appearances since. Saturday night's match was one he would probably just as soon forget.
Pore entered in the 81st minute for Jorge Perlaza. In the final 10 minutes, Pore found himself in position to put in two shots. But he missed a header and skied a ball over the cross bar.
'Looking back on it, I had a lot more time than I thought,' Pore said, of the missed header. 'Sal made a great run down the right, I kind of drifted down by the back post, and (the ball) kind of fell to me. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get enough on it.
'It's frustrating, because you come in for 10 minutes and you want to get three points at home in front of your home fans. And that's why John put me in - to get a late one.'
•••• Timbers striker Kenny Cooper has been questioned this season about his toughness and whether or not he takes dives to draw foul calls. The 6-3 Texan has to be given a lot of credit for 'cowboying up' for more than 80 minutes on Saturday, though.
After a collision with teammate Jeremy Hall in the 12th minute, Cooper played the rest of the match with a bandage wrapped around his head to cover a bloody gash on his forehead.
Cooper took four shots, putting two on goal. One nearly put the Timbers ahead in the 57th minute. Cooper took a pass just inside the 18-yard box from Perlaza. Cooper turned and fired a right-footed shot to the far post. Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens was just able to make a diving fingertip save.
Cooper's six-match goal-less drought included one play in the first half Saturday on which he whiffed a spinning kick inside the box.
Spencer, a former striker, said he understands how much of a factor confidence is in scoring goals. The coach said Cooper has what it takes to get back on track.
'Everybody gets a little bit anxious at times,' Spencer said. 'If you're on a good run, most of the time you can just shut your eyes and hit the ball and it ends up in the back of the net. When you're not in such a good feeling about yourself confidence-wise, you do tend to snatch at things. He snatched at that one. He has the ability to put the ball in the back of the net.'