Updated: Nov 19, 2020
To say that it’s been an interesting year for everyone out there is a major understatement. For the Colorado Rapids to be entering the 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs is a huge accomplishment for the entire organization. Coach Robin Fraser and the players have done an excellent job overcoming adversity this season and 100% deserve this opportunity.
The MLS Cup Playoffs are about to start and the Rapids are coming in in red hot form! They finished the season beating defending MLS Cup Champions Seattle Sounders, MLS is Back Champions Portland Timbers and the Houston Dynamo. A dramatic, stoppage time winner on the road in Houston saw the Rapids move up to 5th place in the Western Conference. This places them against familiar foe Minnesota United in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday.
Gifted with the advantage of more rest than other teams (due to a COVID outbreak) and having tied for the most road wins in the league (despite playing fewer games than any other team) the Rapids have a lot to be excited about. As big of a blow as missing Diego Rubio will be, as he’s representing Chile, Minnesota United will be without more key players including Kei Kamara, Jan Gregus, Romain Metanire and Robin Lod.
When you put together the form the Burgundy Boys are in, the additional rest the players have had, international duty players missing and their ability to win on the road you have a winning formula.
Looking into the tactics it will likely be the effectiveness of the Rapids high press that is most important. If they execute the high press well it can be rewarding while there’s always a risk with this strategy. No doubt Coach Fraser will be pushing the boys to score early which the Loons typically struggle to overcome.
In form wingers Younes Namli and Nicolas Benezet in possession will be able to push the Minnesota defense back and keep them honest. Cole Bassett and his trademark late runs forward are a true threat out of central midfield as well. The outside backs in Colorado, anchored by Keegan Rosenberry and Sam Vines, provide great outlets going forward while also covering well defensively. In the middle of the park we can expect to see Kellyn Acosta and captain Jack Price with Lalas Abubakar and Danny Wilson behind them at center back. This is a fantastic core with guys like Jon Lewis, Braian Galvan and Nicolas Mezquida as potential options off the bench.
The Rapids have every reason to feel confident going into this matchup. A strong start to the match is always important but especially for this Rapids team. We’ve seen a slow start before and that’s a difficult hurdle to overcome. Yarbrough is a great catalyst to keeping this defense honest and communicating well.
Here’s my prediction for the starting lineup on Sunday at Minnesota:
If the Rapids are able to secure a round one victory over Minnesota United they will be facing the winner of Sporting KC vs San Jose. If the favorites win in KC, they’ll host. If San Jose pull it out in an upset, then the Colorado Rapids will host a playoff game in 2020. What a year it's been folks!
Until next time, stay safe out there soccer fans!
EDIT: After publication we found out that Diego Rubio is in fact available after taking a charter flight home from Chile. This likely means he slots into the starting lineup but could feature as a super sub too. GO RAPIDS!