COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids enter Friday night’s home game against the Seattle Sounders with heightened motivation to get three points after two straight losses on the road (9:30 pm ET, Fox Soccer).
The MLS Cup champions’ confidence was dented after they were outplayed by FC Dallas on April 8 in a one-sided 3-0 defeat. Missing club captain Pablo Mastroeni just an hour before kickoff seemed to unglue the normally tight-knit group and they never really got going.
The team returned to Colorado to regroup and the Rapids came out just five days later against Real Salt Lake and performed on a different level. However, the defending MLS Cup champs still fell to a stoppage-time defeat to their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals on a very controversial goal.
Friday night provides the chance to right the ship.
Mastroeni, though not fully fit, looks to be back in the starting lineup for the first time since a 4-1 home defeat of D.C. United on April 3. Midfielder Jamie Smith, who has been a key player this season, looks likely to start, too, moving back out to wide midfield after his stint in central midfield against RSL.
In addition to the midfield issues, the Rapids are short of forwards who are fully fit. Conor Casey has not yet begun training after coming off against DC with a hamstring pull. Quincy Amarikwa will also be out for awhile having sprained his ankle against RSL.
The three forwards available for selection are Omar Cummings, Caleb Folan and Andre Akpan. Folan did not train Wednesday as a precaution due to soreness but was out there with the squad Thursday and is expected to start.
The defense looks more solid with no injury worries. Ex-Sounder Tyrone Marshall, who was solid against Salt Lake, is expected to get the nod again in central defense, allowing Drew Moor to move out left.
Another former Seattle player, Sanna Nyassi, will only start on the bench against his old club if he is fit enough due to a hamstring issue.
Rapids manager Gary Smith respects Seattle, describing them as a “very capable” unit which will be physical and creative and not to be taken lightly. But he is more focused on his own team which received a bit of a wake-up call in Texas and is chomping at the bit to put the recent defeats behind it.
“There is no complacency with us,” Smith said. “We ran into two good teams and fell the wrong side of the results. But, here at home, we have been dominant and I am confident our mindset will be back on track and we will be a little more aggressive in our play.”