The Seattle Sounders play the declining Colorado Rapids this weekend in a game that looks ripe for the taking. The Sounders, seemingly on a skid for the last month, have gotten healthy and dangerous again. They poured in four goals at Portland and six against Chicago and thus resemble the offensive powerhouse we saw earlier in the season. Meanwhile the Rapids have hit a tough skid.
Darlings of the early season, Colorado has now fallen out of playoff position. With injuries mounting, it doesn’t seem likely that they’ll be able to punch their way back to relevance. Which is a bummer. The Rapids were a refreshing team last year. They had up-and-coming young players and a strong coach in Oscar Pareja who had them playing entertaining soccer.
This season has been quite the sea change for Colorado. New coach Pablo Mastroeni focused more on defense than the attack, and for a while things were working out. I wrote earlier of the Rapids:
Colorado is playing gritty soccer. Maybe I gave former coach Oscar Pareja too much credit, assuming the franchise would lose steam and stumble into mediocrity, especially after waiting so long to name former USMNT veteran Pablo Mastroeni coach. But Mastroeni had his defense was near the top of the league behind only stalwarts Sporting Kansas City and the Galaxy (however I suspect L.A. can’t keep their pace with all the injuries they’ve suffered on the backline). Going into Saturday’s game, Colorado was ceding only .833 goals a game.
Finally the Rapids have “stumbled into mediocrity” like so many of us expected. They have lost five straight and only won once in their last nine. They sure look to be playing out the string. Which is great for Seattle. The Sounders have a tough road to hoe if they want to win the Supporters’ Shield in the competitive Western Conference. If the Rapids roll over for the Sounders, so much the better to keep our treble dreams alive.