WATCH LIVE: Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids

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There’s a reason why the term litmus test has been thrown around ahead of tonight’s game in Portland. For the Timbers, the game is a chance to measure themselves against a potential rival for a playoff spot, making three points all the more important. For Colorado, it’s an opportunity to further establish themselves in the West’s increasingly top five, taking valuable points on the road from a talented but wayward team.

Those are the stakes for this week’s Friday night game, with NBCSN and NBC Live Extra bringing you all the action from Providence Park starting at 11:00 p.m. Eastern.

Portland, coming off back-to-back loses to the rival Sounders, have been passed in the standings by Chivas USA, leaving last year’s conference finalists in eighth with 15 games to play. Needing to pass three teams to claim a second straight playoff spot, the Timbers are quickly approaching a make-or-break point of their season.

Those are circumstances that put Liam Ridgewell, the club’s latest Designated Player, in the spotlight. Imported from the Premier League’s West Bromwich Albion, the left back will be slotted into the middle of Portland’s troubled defense. Making his MLS debut tonight, Ridgewell represents one of the back line’s last hopes for improvement.

That defense will be facing Deshorn Brown, the Colorado striker whose athleticism makes him one of the more difficult matchups in the league. Behind him, Dillon Powers continues to emerge as a decisive player in midfield, while Drew Moor’s presence anchoring the central defense during head coach Pablo Mastroeni’s first season.

Should that spine come through tonight, the Rapids will jump to second in the West, though the impact will be more dramatic for Portland. If the Timbers can’t get full points at home against Colorado, fans will have little reason to believe their team’s capable of making a second half push.


Portland: Donovan Ricketts; Jack Jewsbury, Danny O’Rourke, Liam Ridgewell, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Will Johnson; Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri, Steve Zakuani; Fanendo Adi

Colorado: Clint Irwin; Chris Klute, Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor, Thomas Piermayr; Dillon Serna, José Mari, Jared Watts, Dillon Powers; Dillon Serna, Carlos Alvarez, Marlon Harrison; Deshorn Brown.

Bayern, Germany legend Gerd Muller suffering from Alzheimer’s

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY  01:  Gerd Muller during a media event discussing the Golden Boot comptetition in the FIFA 2010 World Cup held at the adidas Jo'bulani Central in Sandton Convention Centre on July 1, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Getty Images for adidas)
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Bayern Munich has confirmed that legendary goalscorer Gerd Muller is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Muller’s 70th birthday is in November, and the club published a statement that no celebrations would be held due to his ongoing treatment.

One of the greatest strikers to ever play the game, Muller scored 525 goals during his 15-years with Bayern, the most in club history. Karl Heinze-Rummenigge is Bayern’s second leading goalscorer with 218 goals.

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Rummenigge currently serves as the club’s director, and spoke about Muller’s legacy.

Gerd Müller is one of the all-time greats of world football. Without his goals, Bayern Munich and German football would not be what it is today.

There will probably never be another goalscorer like Gerd, yet despite all his successes, he was always very humble and reserved, which particularly impressed me.

He was a fantastic team-mate and is a friend. Gerd will always enjoy a place in the Bayern family.

After he ended his playing career, he brought his experience as a coach of youngsters to the club, helping define the likes of world champions Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller, and we are also grateful to him for this.

Muller won the Golden Boot at the 1970 World Cup with ten goals, helping West Germany to a third-place finish. That same year he won the Ballon d’Or as the best player in the world, and helped the West German team capture the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974.

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He is one of the top scorers in German national team history with 68 goals, second only to Miroslav Klose’s 71. However, Muller reached 68 goals in just 62 caps, while it took Klose 137 appearances to reach his mark. His 14 World Cup goals are third all-time to Klose (16) and Ronaldo (14).

Watch Live: USA looks to stay perfect against Panama

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 01:  The starting lineup from USA poses prior to the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying match against Canada at Sporting Park on October 1, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The United States U-23 team has gotten off to a great start in Olympic qualifying, winning their opening two matches by a combined score of 9-2.

Already into the semifinals, the U.S. faces Panama tonight in Colorado for a chance to stay perfect in Group A play. The U.S. needs a draw or a win to lock up the top spot in the group.

UPDATE: Due to Canada’s 2-2 draw against Cuba, the U.S. has clinched first place in Group A. 

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One of the keys to the United States’ success has been balance, as the team has nine goals from seven different players. Andreas Herzog’s side has also gotten off to quick starts in both matches, as Jordan Morris scored in the opening minute of play in a 3-1 win over Canada. Against Cuba, the U.S. had a 3-0 lead heading into halftime.

You can watch the match live on NBC Universo, or online by clicking the link below.

Group A — USA vs. Panama

When: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado
Live Stream: Telemundo