Rapids aim to leave West cellar as quickly as they arrived
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Three months ago, the thought of the Rapids lying in the basement of the Western Conference standings would’ve been difficult to imagine.
But after last Friday night’s 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers, the Rapids now find themselves in that exact spot in the West, a point behind the Portland Timbers heading into Wednesday night’s clash between the two sides at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“I think it is on our minds, to be honest,” Rapids defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “You never want to be at the bottom of the table. We’re one point behind the team we’re playing tomorrow night, that’s a little more motivation to get off the bottom of the table. But at the end of the day, we still got to take it one game at a time.”
But the Rapids have a chance to move out of the cellar with a win on Wednesday night against the team that just replaced them in the eight spot in the West. With a win against the Timbers, the Rapids would leapfrog Portland and Chivas USA into seventh place and keep their slim playoff hopes alive. With seven games to go, the Rapids are 11 points behind fifth-place Vancouver, making it a tall task for Colorado to crawl their way back into the playoff picture.
“You have to score goals,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Tuesday. “We didn’t do that [on Friday night]. We have to score goals. It’s not any individuals; it’s as a group. We play well, but we have to finish. We’re lacking that final touch, but if we get it, we’ll be in a better position.”
Veteran Jeff Larentowicz could miss Wednesday night’s game with knee soreness. The defensive midfielder, who has started 25 of the Rapids’ 27 games this season, left Monday’s and Tuesday’s practice sessions early and was to be further evaluated later Tuesday to determine his status for Wednesday’s game.
“We’re checking the knee, we’ll have a better idea later today,” Pareja said about Larentowicz on Tuesday. “He’s a player who’s used to playing with pain, but we want to see what the doctor’s response is first.”
Striker Omar Cummings will miss Wednesday’s game while away on international duty with Jamaica. The Rapids have used a lone striker in recent matches and Conor Casey could remain in that role, but Pareja also listed attacking midfielder Kamani Hill and striker Andre Akpan as alternatives to start as well.
Midfielder Brian Mullan is expected to start on Wednesday despite suffering an ankle injury on Friday.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.