USOC preview: Red Bulls, Rapids play for spot

NY, Colorado lock horns at RBA for an MLS qualification spot

The basics

Colorado at New York in a US Open Cup play-in game at Red Bull Arena; 8 p.m. ET, streamed live at newyorkredbulls.com.

What's at stake?

The final round of MLS qualification will send the winner of Wednesday night’s match into the round of 16 in the US Open Cup. New York have already played in two other rounds of the tournament while Colorado play a second-straight road game in qualification after a win last month in Kansas City.

Last meeting

The Rapids swept the series against the Red Bulls last season. The July 25 match last year at Giants Stadium resulted in a 4-0 victory by Colorado, who dominated every aspect of the game. All told, the Rapids scored seven goals in their two meetings against New York last season.

What to Watch For

This is an interesting match between both teams. Colorado, who have been idle since a May 15 win at D.C., will most likely field a close-to-full-strength squad when they travel to Red Bull Arena.

But New York will go mainly with reserves. Don’t knock the Red Bulls as a sure loss, however. Wednesday night’s starting lineup will virtually the same team that beat Philadelphia and New England in the first two matches of the cup and recently thrashed Italian Serie A side Juventus 3-1 on Sunday afternoon.

Argentina veteran Claudio Lopez likely play a big role Wednesday night – if not make his first start for Colorado – and is looking to regain the scoring touch that made him a hit in Kansas City the past two seasons. Mehdi Ballouchy, meanwhile, was the catalyst of the attack last year for Colorado, scoring in both games against New York.

The Red Bulls will counter with a lineup that should have only one slight change from Sunday’s victory over Juventus as Brazilian trialist Clebão is ineligible for the match. Head coach Hans Backe said that Roy Miller or Chris Albright will most likely fill that center back slot.

Stat that makes you go, “Hmm …”

The Red Bulls have played in the US Open Cup or its qualifying rounds 13 times in franchise history and a win against Colorado would send the team to the round of 16 for the 10th time. Three times they have made the semifinal and once the final.

He said it

“Four-fifths of the team will be first-team players. I see no reason
why, after 10 days without a game, these guys cannot feature.” – Rapids head coach Gary Smith on his lineup.