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Burgundy Boys Look to Bounce Back in Home Opener

The home opener is almost here as the Colorado Rapids look to pick up three points after a crushing 4-1 defeat in the season opener to the Portland Timbers. It smelled just like last year's opening match when Seattle spanked the Rapids to start the season. The squad really struggled at Portland as a whole. The defense was lacking, the midfield was disjointed, and the attack was anemic. It was bad. The entire team lacked confidence. That being said, it's not time to burn it all down. It was only one game after all!

The off-season was bright as the club brought in a sizeable reinforcement; four Americans came home from Europe, one player from the Turkish league, one from within MLS and three draft picks. Chris Armas was brought in as the head coach who retains MLS and European experience. Most of the technical staff remained with the club during the off-season transitions. Most of the transactions were made early in the window (which should help the team chemistry develop quicker) and fit the needs of the squad and the style of the coach very well. Nearly every media outlet, even the national ones, picked Colorado as having the #1 or #2 best off-season in all of MLS. So, take that for what it is.

Going into the home opener versus Nashville FC, the Rapids will once again play an opponent with several key players out. Nashville also plays in the CONCACAF Champions League midweek prior to the weekend match in Commerce City. Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge, Walker Zimmerman, Randal Leal and Daniel Lovitz have all started the season on the injured list. This should play a significant factor as Nashville is a team that tends to rely heavily on their stars, especially Mukhtar and Zimmerman.

For Colorado, they will be much better served with either Lamine Diack or Jasper Löffelsend starting in midfield over Oliver Larraz. Perhaps it was a fitness issue, I'm not exactly sure but that's not to say Larraz is a poor player. He's not. Simply put, he and Connor Ronan have similar styles, so they don't make the best central midfield paring. Rather a ball winning, destroyer next to Ronan is ideal. Apart from this one change in the starting lineup, expect most of the same players to start again but to see a team that performs much better. The effectiveness of the press and the sharpness in the final third, in particular, need to improve on Saturday night.

After the loss in Portland, club captain Keegan Rosenberry had this to say, "I hear you. I feel for the fans after all that anticipation and an exciting offseason. I would encourage you to stick with us. We've got a good young hungry group. The group knows what we're capable of". Something to Prove FC, as many have called this year's squad, is hungry. Several players are hoping to move up the ranks in the national squad scene. To prove that they are worthy. That this team should be taken seriously. For me, this team looks closer to the 2021 squad (very exciting and good!) than the 2023 squad (historically bad). One ball bouncing the right way, one huge save, one goal ripping the back of the net can change everything. Look for the Burgundy Boys to out press Nashville, to out coach the former Rapid coach Gary Smith and to notch the first win of the season this weekend.

Gameday Updates

The club announced a series of updates to the stadium and the overall experience at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Full details are below in the link but include new food options (hello street corn, brisket fries and bacon mac & cheese!), a new goal song, Block Party details and much more. Kickoff is at 7:30pm MT and available on Apple TV with the MLS Season Pass. Well worth the $80 for the season if you have not picked it up yet!

(Images: Colorado Rapids)


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