Portland's bad start was made worse when they were reduced to 10 men when Pa Modou Kah was sent off for hauling down Crew forward Aaron Schoenfeld in the area and a spot kick was awarded.
Fortunately for the visitors, Higuain fired his penalty wide of the target as the ball skimmed the post.
This missed opportunity nearly cost the visitors as Higuain threaded a through-ball for Dominic Oduro, but the striker could only fire wide of Rickett's goal.
The Timbers keeper kept his side in the game when he turned Ethan Finlay's diving header over the bar when it looked certain to find the top corner.
Portland nearly earned themselves a point four minutes from time when Darlington Nagbe raided down the left and cut inside on his right foot and drilled an effort at goal, but his shot was well saved by Matt Lampson.