Weekly Rapids Update
Rapids vs LA Galaxy Quick Recap
The Colorado Rapids managed to keep their 10 game unbeaten streak at home intact. Unfortunately they didn't have quite enough firepower to get a second goal across the line. It ended 1-1 on a very hot afternoon in Commerce City. For the second straight week Michael Barrios was nominated to the MLS Team of the Week. Typically known for his creativity and assists, Mikey instead scored a header. That's right, all 5 foot 2 inches GOT UP! It was a beautiful early cross from Shinyashiki with the inside of the right foot, helping to put the home team ahead 1-0 in the 66'. Another standout was Braian Galvan who once again being tasked with playing right wing back (normally a left wing), winning him yet another Man of the Match award. He was tireless up and down the flank, covering defensively and creating problems for the oppossition on offense.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
In the 80' the Rapids defense was easily beaten by a long ball over the top. It split Wilson and Trusty, and while Rosenberry read it early, he couldn't quite recover in time. Taking his first touch, Samuel Grandsir scored for the Galaxy on a volley shot from about 20 yards out. Although the shot was hit hard, Yarbrough had an opportunity to keep it out of the net, however he mistakenly let it deflect off his body and into the net.
The Rapids continued to create and had several chances to go ahead late in the game. As Head Coach Robin Fraser said afterward, "it's disappointing to make the mistakes that we did to give up the second goal. But this is the way it is when you play good teams. Sometimes you get punished. Overall, I think a diffiicult day for both teams and probably a fair result.” The game ended with the Rapids having less possession (48%) but more shots (16) and chances created (11). The Rapids expected goals (xG) was 1.17 while the Galaxy edged ahead at 1.24.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
Standings, Schedule & MLS Power Rankings
Currently the Rapids sit in third place in the Western Conference. Kansas City and Seattle are technically ahead, however the Colorado Rapids have one game in hand over Seattle, and two games in hand over Kansas City. Theoretically if the Rapids win one of the games in catchup play, they'd be in second place. The Rapids are also third place in MLS in points per game.
Power Rankings: Atlanta United, Inter Miami surge after Week 24 | MLSSoccer.com
The show MLS Extra Time today presented the same argument about the Rapids we're used to hearing regarding power rankings - they need to beat the best teams. Winning against the rest is nice, but the threshold has to be crossed. It is in fact accurate and hard to disagree with. However, they also pointed out that this Rapids team have mostly average players across the board in each position and does not have an above average player on the roster. I'm sure most fans would agree with me that Mikey Barrios fits that bill as he is a clear difference maker and the player we rely on in the biggest moments. Th Rapids lean on Barrios whether he’s playing right wing, left wing or striker. He is creating. He is scoring. He’s doing it all for the Rapids right now. 6 goals and 4 assists in 20 starts in MLS this season. Captain Jack Price has 7 assists this year from a deep lying central midfield role. Auston Trusty, Danny Wilson and William Yarbrough have all proven this season that they’re above average players. There’s quite a few players that I feel are above average with one elite player in Barrios.
Namli's returned to practice
The other key factor coming into play is the return of the sole DP on the roster, Younes Namli. He's returned to practice and will likely be available soon. The Danish-Moroccan dual national underwent successful surgery on his left ankle back on June 6. The official announcement was that he'd return to Denmark to complete rehab and it would take about 12-16 weeks to recover. We are in week 13 if my math is right. It's great to see him back in practice in smiling.
The big question is how do you fit him in? Previously Namli has played at right midfield, central attacking midfield and even dropped into a #8 role. There's no doubt his greatest strength is when the ball is at his feet. Last season he was one of the top dribblers in the league. Silky smooth, left footed, prefers an inverted role and he's an absolute handfull for defenders no matter where he lines up. Knowing HC Fraser, he'll likely work Namli in slowly so I don't expect a full start for a few more weeks. With Barrios being in such hot form, it's more likely that Barrios moves over to striker while Namli takes the right midfielder role. Depending on how you look at it, you could call it the second striker position too. Point being, a Barrios and Namli attack could be lethal. Considering the depth of the squad, Namli is more of a luxury player. There‘s plenty of defensive cover throughout the squad and Namli could be even better utilized in the current system. With Barrios on the field at the same time, the Rapids have the kind of players we haven't seen often before. Players in attacking positions with pace, skill and technique. It could be a whole new team out there with the addition of Namli.
Good news on the schedule is that the next 3 out of 4 matches are at home. At Portland Timbers on Wednesday 9/15. Then home to Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC and Austin FC. Very good opportunity to get a few wins at hAt the conclusion of this 3 game home stand comes arguably the biggest test of the season. The Burgundy Boys go to Seattle on 10/3. No matter what happens between now and then it's a massive game for both teams. Getting through these next 4 games with as many points is possible is very important. Of course the much more important thing to do is to go to Seattle and win. It's a time to be ambitious and this club certainly is doing that. I expect HC Fraser to prioritze this match but as they always say, mentally the focus has to be on winning the at a time.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
Rapids vs Portland Timbers Preview
A quick turnaround for the Rapids and one extra day of rest for Portland. The Timbers won on Friday night against Vanouver Whitecaps, 1-0. Portland lines up in a 4-2-3-1 formation which provides good balance on the field. The Chara brothers are always dangerous whether that's cleaning up the midfield or hitting the opponent on a quick counter. Blanco has found his sweet spot in the #10 role flanked by Asprilla, Chara and Mora up top. This is a formiddable attack. However their weakness is a defense that ranks second to last in MLS in goals allowed. The Timbers currently sit 5th in the West on 33 points (9 points behind the Pids). They've been a little up and down this season. 10 wins, 10 lossess and only 3 ties. Portland seems like a team that's an all or nothing team. Since losing to last place Austin FC 3-1 several weeks ago, they've strung together 3 wins capped off by a 2-0 victory in Seattle. Point being, don't count the Timbers out. It may not be their best season but they are certianly no slouches.
5-3-2 or 3-4-3 or maybe even 3-4-2-1. Call it whatever you want. It's working. Huge credit to Fraser and the staff for their part in the success of the club this season. On the road I'm expecting some level of squad rotation as it'll be another quick turnaround for next Sunday's match. Lewis and or Shinyashiki are likely in contention to get a start. With Abubakar out with a concussion from last week, I don't think he starts again out of precaution. Fraser could opt to slide Rosenberry over to centerback while Galvan gets another start at right wing back.
Predicted XI at Portland Timbers
Price is expected to return after sitting out due to yellow card accumulation suspension. Another central midfielder would likely rotate out while Warner or Bassett get the start. Esteves and Galvan are suddenly a fantastic pairing as wingbacks and remain first choice options. Sliding Rosenberry into centerback in a 3 at the back formation has worked quite well throughout the season. And that's really the story with this whole team. Players are ready to play in different positions. Whatever it takes to win.
You can replace the players but the system keeps grinding on. A striker who can stretch the field and find space. Two creative midfielders who can go wide or connect through the middle. Double pivot in central midfield. Wingbacks who can run for days and play smart. A solid defensive unit that can dominate games and transition into attack efficiently. This is the formula that HC Fraser and SVP & GM Padraigh Smith are cooking with. Don't expect the recipe to change.
First options off the bench should be Andre Shinyashiki, Jon Lewis, Nico Mezquida and Collen Warner. Health status of Diego Rubio and Lalas Abubakar remains unclear. Closer to game time and pending any announcments from the pre-game press conference I will have an update posted on Twitter.
Tactically the Rapids will look to exploit the Timbers on the counter attack. It might not sound unique playing away from home and it doesn't mean you have to sit back and play overly defensive. This Rapids team is smart enough to pick out the best moments to push forward. The coach is savvy enough to make the neccessary changes to affect the outcome of the game. The width offered by the fullbacks and a free sweeper who’s good on the ball opens things up in this Rapids tactical setup. Barrios will remain the primary outlet to push the attack with urgency. Pick your poison; possession through short passes, long balls over the top or set peice mastery. Like any game, starting strong and with a sense of urgency goes a long way. No matter how the game goes, this Rapids team is capable of adapting and finding a way to win together.
Colorado Rapids at Portland Timbers
Wednesday Sept 15
Kickoff is 8:08 PM MT
ESPN+ out of market. Altitude Sports via Direct TV and AT&T Now
On your radio dial at 92.5 FM in the Denver area
Until next time, stay safe out there soccer fans!