Rapids' Baudet eager for first playoff experience

Hulking French defender ready for clash with visiting Crew

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Julien Baudet had an interesting few minutes in the heart of the Colorado Rapids defense on Saturday night against Real Salt Lake.

Coming on as a late substitute in the 84th minute of the game for his first action since limping out of a New York Red Bulls match-up on Sept. 11, the big Frenchman enjoyed a few quiet minutes before the craziness of stoppage time in which RSL clawed their way back into the game with two late strikes.

As bemused and angry as anyone at the time, Baudet said the RSL experience is now firmly behind the team as they prepare for a very quick turnaround for Thursday’s home playoff game against Columbus.

“The playoffs speak for themselves,” Baudet told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s always exciting to be in that final eight. More than that, it’s exciting the way the group is playing. We are pumped up for whoever and whatever is coming.”

With the likes of Conor Casey, Omar Cummings, Pablo Mastroeni, Brian Mullan, Jeff Larentowicz and Baudet himself, there are multiple Rapids players who have big match experience on the international or club stage. Baudet has been involved in playoffs with Oldham Athletic in England and with similar big games in Toulouse, France.

If the Rapids prevail over Columbus and San Jose beat New York, the Eastern Conference final will be played in Colorado.

“That would be awesome for everyone in Denver if we can host a conference final,” he said. “But this is going to be a tough game [Thursday]. This is what we have worked towards all season. It’s a very exciting time but, at the same time, we need to keep our feet on the ground. We haven’t achieved anything yet.”

Baudet was still unsure Tuesday whether he would be back in the starting lineup. Rapids head coach Gary Smith likes the extra physical presence Baudet can bring, but may be reluctant to tinker with his back line for such a crucial game.

There is no doubt, however, that Baudet will play some part in the series. The Rapids failed to get into the playoffs last season, Baudet’s first
for Colorado, with a 3-0 defeat by RSL on the final day of the regular
season.

“I’m ready for whatever I’m called for and I’m hungry for it after the disappointment of last year,” he said.

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