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Rapids expect tighter defensive line for match with RBNY

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids gave up four goals in last weekend’s defeat at the hands of the Seattle Sounders and, with key striker Conor Casey out, the players know they can’t afford a repeat Wednesday with Thierry Henry and the New York Red Bulls in town (9:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).

While the Rapids did reply to Seattle with three goals of their own at the weekend, they know the rest of the season’s absence of their talismanic forward will harm their offensive chances. All the more reason for a tighter defensive line at Dick's Sporting Good Park this time around.

The back four of Kosuke Kimura, Tyrone Marshall, Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor is head coach Gary Smith’s preferred lineup defensively. Last Saturday, they know they played far too aggressively at the back, maintaining a very high line and allowing the Seattle forwards to get in behind them repeatedly.

“I think we got into the notion of the midfielders stepping up, and so we had to step up,” center back Marshall (above) told MLSsoccer.com. “In the game, with the flow, you are not really seeing that at the time, but we should have noticed it.”

The problem was that the Rapids responded to the way Seattle were playing with very wide and high wingers and, with a wet field, many balls were played over the top or wide, leaving the defense vulnerable. The high line went through the whole team.

“It wasn’t spoken about, it was more dictated by the way they were playing,” central midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “It totally disrupted us, but it wasn’t something that we spoke about and said we were going to do.”

Smith acknowledged that his back line looked uncharacteristically vulnerable in the Seattle game, but said it was a problem with the whole unit, including himself.

“As a group out there, their evaluation of the situation wasn’t right and, as a manager, my information to them, especially at half time, probably wasn’t as clear as it should have been,” Smith said. “So, we’re all going to take a bit of blame on this one.”

The same back four will probably line up tonight and Marshall knows they cannot afford a repeat performance. A good team effort tonight will help to wash the Seattle blues away.

“Sometimes as players, you want to be aggressive and that game didn’t call for that,” Marshall added. “Going forward, that won’t happen again. Coming off a game like Saturday, we want to have a good showing [tonight] … and try and get three points.”

The Rapids lineup, minus Casey, will probably be very similar to the Seattle game. Midfielder Jamie Smith remains sidelined but Brian Mullan is expected to be back on the flank after his absence over the weekend. Left backs Danny Earls and Anthony Wallace are not considered fit enough to be part of Wednesday’s 18-man roster.