CCL Preview: No room for error for Rapids vs. Real España
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids are crying for three points as they prepare for their final home game in the group stage of the CONCACAF Champions League against Real España on Wednesday night.
The Rapids, who have lost their last four games in all competitions, have had mixed results so far in CCL play at home, getting a topsy-turvy 3-2 win over Isidro Metapán last month and then getting blasted 4-1 by Santos Laguna last week.
Against Real España – whom the Rapids tied 1-1 in Honduras on Aug. 23 – the MLS club has no room for error.
“We have to win and there will be enough in the group [of players] to win the game,” Rapids head coach Gary Smith told MLSsoccer.com.
Smith played a mix of regular first-teamers and reserves down in Honduras and, with one eye on the weekend fixture against the San Jose Earthquakes, may be tempted to do the same on Wednesday.
One thing he did notice about the Honduran side in their previous encounter was their lack of height, so he might throw some of his bigger forwards like Caleb Folan and Macoumba Kandji into the mix.
Steward Ceus, who had an impressive CCL debut in the first match vs. Real España, has been a fixture in goal for the Rapids’ CCL games and looks set to start again. Defender Tyrone Marshall, who came on as a second-half substitute in the weekend loss at Toronto, is expected to start in central defense.
Midfielder Jamie Smith, out since July 29 due to persistent injury concerns, is expected to be on the bench and Gary Smith is hopeful the Scotsman can play some kind of role in the match.
Currently third in Group B with four points, Colorado will have to battle confidence issues given their recent losing streak, and beating struggling Real España – currently at the bottom of the group with just one point – represents a good opportunity to get back on track.
“We need to keep our heads up and keep going,” said Marshall. “We have a game coming up midweek here and we’ll work on the things that we need to work on for that game.We’ll get a result and, I think once we get a result, it carries over to the next game.”