Match Preview: Colorado Rapids vs. LAFC
It appears that the Colorado Rapids are going to be busy bees between now and early November, with 10 games in the space of just 32 days, and it all resumes on Wednesday night and a home meeting with Los Angeles Football Club, writes Richard Fleming.
The Rapids last played on September 23, when they swept aside San Jose Earthquakes 5-0. That was their third win (and third clean sheet) in four games, a run built on youthful exuberance, and one which had lifted them back into the playoff picture.
And then they were struck down by COVID-19. The virus swept through the club, affecting players and staff, so much so that their games against Sporting Kansas City (September 27) and at Portland Timbers (October 3) were postponed.
These matches have since been rearranged but leaves the Rapids with a congested schedule, as every Wednesday and every weekend are spoken for between now and Decision Day on November 8.
Obviously, with quarantining rules, the players have not been able to prepare for the visit of LAFC in the way they are accustomed, but sport must take a back seat to the health and well-being of all those affected.
LAFC return to the Rocky Mountain region, three days after claiming their first road points of 2020 on Sunday evening. They defeated Real Salt Lake 3-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium, but two of their goalscorers from that game will be missing for the trip to Colorado. Brian Rodriguez and Diego Rossi are part of Uruguay’s 23-man squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Ecuador.
Rossi, in particular, will be a huge loss. He leads the league’s scoring charts with 12 goals. Bob Bradley is also without Ecuador pair Jose Cifuentes and Diego Palacios, while last year’s MLS MVP, Carlos Vela, has not featured since suffering an MCL sprain on August 22. That means LAFC could be without all three of their Designated Players (Vela, Rossi, Rodriguez) for Wednesday’s game.
The Rapids, meanwhile, are certain to be without at least one player. Midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who has started all 13 previous games, will serve a one-game ban for yellow card accumulation. It is not yet known the status of the Rapids’ Designated Player, Younes Namli. He was last seen in the 2-0 win at LA Galaxy on September 19, but limped out with a hamstring injury.
Diego Rubio could creep back into the reckoning. The Chile striker sustained a knee injury in the 4-1 loss at FC Dallas on September 16 after colliding with a post. And if Namli is unable to go, then that may open the door to a second start for young winger Braian Galvan.
During their impressive run of three wins in four games, the Rapids have scored more goals (13) than in the previous nine matches of 2020, though they tackle a team which has more goals (35) than any other team in MLS. On the flip side, LAFC also leaks goals. They have given up 30 goals in 15 games. Only San Jose and Vancouver Whitecaps have a worse record.
In the 10 games post-Orlando, LAFC have leaked as many goals as they have scored, 20. And while the Rapids are seeking a third straight win, LAFC comes into this one having failed to register back-to-back success this season.
This is only a fifth meeting of these two teams. The Rapids’ solitary success came at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in June, 2019 when a Danny Wilson header separated the two teams. The other three games have gone the way of LAFC, including a 3-1 win at Banc of California Stadium a year ago today (October 6).
The Rapids should start as favorites, despite all that has gone on these past two weeks. LAFC are minus star names and top quality. The Rapids will, hopefully, be refreshed and ready for the make-or-break part of the season.