Preview: Crew vs. Rapids
Colorado Rapids (5-3-1, tied for 4th in Western Conference) vs. Columbus Crew (6-1-3, 1st in Eastern Conference)
All-time record: Colorado hold the edge 14-9-8.
ONN-TV, MLS Direct Kick
What's at stake?
A lot. Another home win against a tough opponent will increase momentum for the Rapids, who edged Seattle 1-0 at DSG Park last weekend. But Columbus have not lost on the road all season and offer a huge obstacle to the Rapids’ continued confidence. Columbus may tire a little at altitude after the midweek draw with San Jose.
The Rapids lost 1-0 for the second straight year at home to Columbus last August. It was one of only two league defeats for Colorado at home all season. A 39th-minute goal from Chad Marshall clinched it for the Crew as Ugo Ihemelu was sent off in the closing minutes for the Rapids. That game followed a tight 1-1 tie in Columbus in April.
Heroes & villains
Colorado defense/midfield vs. Guillermo Barros Schelotto: Columbus aren’t about one player, but the Argentinean veteran remains at the hub of most of their creative work. The Rapids have the second-tightest defense in MLS with only seven league goals conceded all season. But the back four, as well as the defensive midfield duo of Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz, will have their work cut out to prevent Schelotto from creating too many chances.
Colorado front line vs. Crew defense: The Rapids don’t have a good scoring record against the Crew in recent years and are averaging little more than one goal a game so far in 2010. But the whole team was buoyed by Conor Casey’s goal last week against Seattle, his first league goal in open play in almost nine months. Casey, Omar Cummings and the Rapids midfield will be looking to build on that against one of the stingier defenses in the MLS.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm”
The Rapids have failed to score against the Crew at DSG Park since the complex opened in 2007.
He said it
“Columbus are one of the form sides at the moment. They have players in the team that can change the course of events in the blink of an eye. But our players are looking confident and enthused. There may not be all that many clear chances so it will be very important to convert at the right times.” – Rapids head coach Gary Smith