Smith: Rapids can reach 60 points, challenge for Shield
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — After a frustrating scoreless draw at home to the Houston Dynamo last weekend, the Colorado Rapids will need to bounce back on the road against a surging Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday (8:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
And while three points against Sporting isn’t an absolute necessity, the Rapids are aiming to take at least 11 of a possible 18 points from their six remaining July fixtures and maybe pick up some extra points that Rapids head coach Gary Smith believes the team lost in the season’s opening months.
“I don’t think that’s an unreasonable approach,” Smith said. “I’d like to think we could maybe recover two or three of those points we have lost. We have better health and four home games.”
The minimum 12 points for July is part of an overall ambitious target of 60 points for the season, a tally Smith believes would guarantee the Rapids a playoff spot and see them challenging for the Supporters’ Shield.
Players were divided over the chances of reaching that goal after the weekend’s game. Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz pointed out the team’s goal scoring struggles as an obstacle to reaching 60 points this season, saying 45-50 points was more in his mind at the moment.
“The hardest thing in the game is to create a goal and, at the moment, we don’t have the rhythm or cohesion between the players to do that," Larentowicz said.
Defender Marvell Wynne was more confident.
“Reach for the stars, why not?” Wynne said. “It is possible — after all, we won the thing last year.”
The key for the Rapids is better health in the squad as they try to get close to full strength in the second half of the season.
Colorado will be boosted by the return of Conor Casey after the imposing striker served a one-game suspension against Houston, and he may partner with Omar Cummings up top against Sporting. Smith looks likely to rest Tyrone Marshall and possibly even Pablo Mastroeni with another game coming up at home to Vancouver this Saturday.
Brian Mullan’s inclusion in the starting XI has been cast in doubt after the veteran picked up a back injury last weekend.
“The second half of the season, we need to be above average,” Smith said of his squad’s performance. “But I think we are above average when everyone’s healthy.”