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Final

Rapids to test their own depth against rotation experts LA

Gary Smith

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Thanks in part to their participation in the CONCACAF Champions League, two teams mired in heavy schedules meet on Friday night as the Colorado Rapids face the league-leading LA Galaxy at the Home Depot Center (11 pm ET; FOX Soccer).

The Rapids have enjoyed a bit of a break recently, their last game being a disappointing 2-0 loss to Chicago on Aug. 27. But LA will be a stiff challenge for Colorado, who face a run of two games per week for the next few weeks.

FLASHBACK, 2010: LA 1, COL 3
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Ahead of the busy stretch, head coach Gary Smith noted similarities between his need for squad rotation and what the Galaxy have done under Bruce Arena, who have been without quality players such as Robbie Keane because of international duty.

“You have seen guys more than good enough to slot in,” Smith said this week. “Bruce has rotated the squad incredibly well there to keep getting results.”

Smith should have a full arsenal of international players available as they all make their way back from the four corners of the globe. With long travel times, though, it may be that Sanna Nyassi, who played in Namibia for Gambia, and Omar Cummings, who has played two international games in the past week for Jamaica, will be used sparingly. That could mean opportunities upfront for the likes of Macoumba Kandji and Caleb Folan.

One player not making the trip to LA is defender Drew Moor, who will miss the game because of yellow-card accumulation. Danny Earls looks the most likely to take Moor’s place at left back.

Jamie Smith remains a doubt for the game. However, the Scottish midfielder, who has not played because of injury since July 29, noted that LA have managed to build on their success of last year and have become an even more formidable team in 2011.

“They are a team that’s been together a couple of years now," Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “They’ve got a good understanding within the group. The players all know each other and they are a talented group. Last year they were pretty far ahead, and this year they are ahead again. For us it will be terribly difficult, but we are more than capable of getting results if we need to.”

Gary Smith said his players will relish the atmosphere at the Home Depot Center. Last year, the Rapids ran out 3-1 winners after falling behind initially, their first come-from-behind victory in four years.

“We’ve got a bit of a challenge on our hands, but we have always performed well at the Home Depot, whether it’s against LA or Chivas,” he said. “It’s always an occasion against the Galaxy and, with them being the frontrunners, there’s no better platform to win a game of football.”