Rapids seek bounce-back vs. streaking Sounders

A key match for Western Conference positioning is ahead with the Colorado Rapids play host to Seattle Sounders FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The Rapids come in off back-to-back losses, last a 1-0 loss at Real Salt Lake. Sounders FC are on a four-game unbeaten streak after coming back for a late 1-1 draw at Philadelphia Union last weekend.

REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu. SAR (bench): Daniel Belleau; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: Geoff Gamble

MLS Career: 28 games; FC/gm: 29.0; Y/gm: 3.9; R: 5; pens: 4

INJURY REPORT: COLORADO RAPIDS – OUT: FW Quincy Amarikwa (L ankle sprain); FW Macoumba Kandji (L knee ACL tear); QUESTIONABLE: FW Conor Casey (L hamstring strain); PROBABLE: MF Pablo Mastroeni (R Achilles strain); MF Sanna Nyassi (L hamstring strain) … SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC – PROBABLE: FW Pat Noonan (R quad strain)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

SUSPENDED: none

WARNINGS: SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none. SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: COL: Conor Casey … SEA: Leo Gonzalez

HEAD-TO-HEAD

ALL-TIME (4 meetings): Sounders FC 2 wins, 7 goals … Rapids 1 win, 4 goals … Ties 1

AT COLORADO (2 meetings): Rapids 1 win, 3 goals … Sounders FC 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1

RETURN MATCH: 7/16: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids, 1 p.m. PT (FOX Soccer)

LAST YEAR (MLS):

5/29: COL 1, SEA 0 (Casey 63)

7/25: SEA 2, COL 1 (Zakuani 8, 17 – Cummings 9)

  • The Rapids have not lost to Sounders FC in Commerce City, getting their first win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park last year after a draw in the first meeting all-time between the clubs.
  • Sounders FC have won both league meetings at Qwest Field.
  • Coaches record: Gary Smith vs. SEA: P4 W1 L2 D1 … Sigi Schmid v COL: P33 W16 L10 D7

COLORADO RAPIDS

The Colorado Rapids lost for the second time on the trot, both on the road, falling 1-0 to Real Salt Lake on a stoppage-time goal on April 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Rapids have 9 points from 5 games, in third place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Once again, late dramatics settled a Rocky Mountain Cup match. Three minutes into stoppage time, Javier
  • Morales lined up a free kick from 25 yards out. His attempt at goal hit the right post and rebounded to Paulo Junior. He was able only to push it forward, but Espindola swung out his leg to drive the ball into the back of the net for the game winner.
  • Rapids head coach Gary Smith made three changes to the team that fell 3-0 to FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park.
  • Tyrone Marshall came in for Anthony Wallace in the back four, and Brian Mullan and Wells Thompson returned to the midfield in place of Sanna Nyassi and Joseph Nane.
  • COLORADO RAPIDS (4-1-3-2): Matt Pickens – Kosuke Kimura, Marvell Wynne, Tyrone Marshall, Drew Moor - Jeff Larentowicz - Brian Mullan, Jamie Smith (Andre Akpan 86), Wells Thompson - Omar Cummings (Quincy Amarikwa 63 / Sanna Nyassi 69), Caleb Folan.

TEAM NEWS

  • With the absence of Pablo Mastroeni for a second consecutive match, Jamie Smith slotted into the central midfield role.
  • “Jamie played slightly out of position and he was perpetual motion,” said Rapids boss Gary Smith. “I thought he played some very nice passes and, like all the guys, the performance was so much better [than against Dallas].”
  • Mastroeni has returned to full training after the club was given the weekend off, and could be available for selection against Seattle.
  • "It was an unfortunate set of cirmcumstances where something minor flared up into something longer than I anticipated," said Mastroeni. "But it was good to be out here with the guys today and just working progressively towards possibly seeing some action this weekend."
  • Conor Casey missed a second match in a row through injury, meaning Caleb Folan again partnered Omar Cummings in attack. But the Rapids saw their scoreless streak reach two full matches.
  • Of Folan, Gary Smith said: “He was a real handful and he held up play very well. He really looked like the individual I wanted.”
  • But Cummings was taken off for Quincy Amarikwa at the three-quarter mark of the contest. “Omar started off very slowly and I felt we need some added energy,” Smith said. “There is competition.”
  • Yet Amarikwa’s shift lasted just six minutes after he suffered a high ankle sprain in a tackle, and is listed as out on the club injury report.
  • Remarkably, it was yet another Rocky Mountain Cup match decided in the last minute – and not Colorado’s way. Last year, Alvaro Saborio scored twice in stoppage time for a 2-2 draw; Yura Movsisyan scored a 90th minute goal in 2008, and a late Robbie Findley goal led to an RSL win in 2007.
  • “The energy and the focus on the job in hand were so much more elevated,” Gary Smith said. “Everyone’s attitude was so much better and that makes it all the more galling it was decided that way.”

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Seattle Sounders FC extended their unbeaten streak to four games, getting a third draw in that time with a late equalizer for a 1-1 tie with Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. Sounders FC have 6 points from 6 games on the season, sitting in a tie for fifth place in the Western Conference.

LAST MATCH

  • Union took the lead in the 32nd minute. After Kyle Nakazawa was taken down by Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, Carlos Ruiz hit a curling freekick around the wall and just inside Kasey Keller's right post.
  • But Sounders FC hit for the leveler in the first minute of added time. A corner kick fell to Fredy Montero in the left side of the area, and he sent a short, lofted chip into the goalmouth where Alvaro Fernandez flicked a header in off the right post.
  • Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid made no changes to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 2-1 at Qwest Field.
  • SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC (4-1-3-2): Kasey Keller – James Riley, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez (Fredy Montero 66) - Osvaldo Alonso - Erik Friberg (Alvaro Fernandez 78), Brad Evans, Steve Zakuani - Mauro Rosales, O'Brian White (Nate Jaqua 67).

TEAM NEWS

  • After starting the first two games of the season, Alvaro Fernandez lost his place in the team. He came as a substitute for the second time against Philadelphia, and came through with the equalizing goal.
  • “He came out and brought that into training and I thought he brought the same thing into the game. It wasn’t just his header. I thought his activity level was good. He made a lot of good runs off the ball. He got back and defended,” Schmid said. “That’s a thing that he can do because he’s a skillful player with good size and he can help us out in the air, which he showed with that headed goal.”
  • The goal came in a combination of Sounders FC’s two Designated Players, as Fredy Montero was again available after undergoing wrist surgery. Montero was also a second-half substitute.
  • "It was good to be back on the field," said Montero to the Seattle Times. "I feel really happy because I don't like to be on the bench."
  • The entrance of Montero for defender Leo Gonzalez, along with Fernandez gave Seattle a three-pronged attack for the final quarter-hour of the match.
  • "I think based upon the last 15 minutes we deserved to get an equalizer," Schmid said. "I thought we were creating more things up front. ... We were around the goal with two or three good opportunities."
  • Sounders FC have gone four games unbeaten after opening a season with back-to-back losses for the first time. "That's six points in a row now," said midfielder Brad Evans. "I think it's something we can be proud of."
  • Added midfielder Steve Zakuani: "We haven't lost in four games now and we'll just keep building."
  • Sounders FC are nearly back at full fitness and competition for places in the side is keen.
  • “You have to look at who’s playing well and obviously if you have enough depth and enough players are playing well you could even rest some people along the way because it does get to be a strain playing the amount of games you have to play so you can keep the troops sharp and energetic,” Schmid said. “How’s it going to look this weekend? Who is going to play? Right now I couldn’t tell you. I haven’t really made up my mind.”
  • It’s the second of four road games out of five for Seattle, with two away games in four days to start May.
  • “We just approach home games and road games with the same mentality,” Schmid said. “We want to go out there and win. We don’t go out on the road and hope we can keep it tight and hope we can sneak out a win and hope we can get out of here 1-0.”