COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids will be without Jermaine Jones for the third-straight match heading into this weekend’s game with FC Dallas. The midfielder remains day-to-day with a knee sprain originally suffered during a tackle against Portland earlier this month and has been training independently.
Nevertheless, Colorado continues to rack up results with or without Jones in the lineup, and they will look to continue their current 14-game unbeaten run against the current Supporter’s Shield leaders and former Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja.
Yet despite the numerous perceived distractions, current Colorado head coach Pablo Mastroeni and his men seem ready and willing for Saturday's top of the table showdown (9 pm ET, MLS LIVE).
“At the moment, we believe we’re the best team,” said Rapids midfielder Dillon Powers. “I haven’t seen a team yet that’s outworked us or outplayed us to the point where we could say, ‘Hats off to you guys.' I think that’s one of the reasons why we’ve gone on such a long streak.”
Powers maintains an air of confidence, but admitted that Dallas and Colorado share more in common than being at the top of the overall standings with 40 and 37 points, respectively.
“I think in this league it takes a lot of hard work to get wins,” Powers said. “I think both of our teams are hardworking and motivated teams.”
Powers, who has played under both Pareja and Mastroeni during their respective tenures with the Rapids, noted that the latter attribute is something common between the two managers.
“They both have very fiery personalities. There’s a lot of similarities there.” Powers said. “I think Pablo does a really good job of motivating our team. You want to battle for him and play for him, which is how I felt playing for Oscar, too.”
After Pareja’s abrupt departure from Colorado prior to the 2014 season, the Rapids struggled with back-to-back losing campaigns under Mastroeni. But in his third season as manager, Mastroeni has steered Colorado back into a clear path towards the playoffs, and he’s done so with his own unique approach.
“Pablo is really into the psychology of the game; making sure you get the upper hand against your opponent,” Powers said. “He’s very tactic-driven, making sure that we have a clear picture of what he wants. I think that’s what has helped us this year.”
But Mastroeni himself downplayed any comparison between himself and Pareja.
“That’s for someone else to say,” Mastroeni said “We’re just two managers that want to play a good brand and who want to win games.”
“[Saturday is] about two very good teams that are vying for the top spot more than anything else,” Mastroeni added.