Pareja confident his young side can match Seattle's high-profile players
The Colorado Rapids have four games left in the 2013 regular season.
The first of the final tests is Saturday's home game against the Seattle Sounders (8:00 p.m. MT), who sit atop the Western Conference alongside Real Salt Lake with 51 points, six more than Colorado.0
"We always feel good," Pareja told reporters this week about his team's preparation. "The outcome, nobody knows, but one thing (we know) is that this group of players has been working intensely, and tirelessly."
The Rapids and Sounders are meeting for the third and final time this season. Seattle won April's match, 1-0, in Colorado, and the teams tied the second game, 1-1, in Seattle in July. That was the first time the Rapids had taken a point from the Sounders since 2010.
"We always take that information into preparation for our games, and it helps," Pareja said of facing a team for the third time. "You find things that you did that you don't want to repeat and some that were good and you want to do better."
Two players that Seattle is expected to have available on Saturday are U.S. Men's National Team forwards Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson, who have yet to play against Colorado in 2013. Dempsey is coming off a hamstring injury but is nearing his return. Johnson is one of three Sounders player with eight goals, along with designated player Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle. The team's leader in assist is former Argentina national teamer Mauro Rosales with eight.
Pareja is confident his side will be more than ready to face Seattle's high-profile stars.
"If they have Dempsey and the other guys, then we have [Chris] Klute and [Dillon] Powers and Shane [O'Neill] and Drew [Moor]," Pareja said. "We'll match them. I see it as a big challenge for our team, and I know the boys have such a good personality that when these big challenges come, they step up."
Pareja said he has begun looking at the standings, however that hasn't changed his approach to each game.
"We think about it - 'how can we plan, what can we do here or there," he said. "But it comes down to the next game, then, regardless of the outcome of the weekend, the next one is even more important, and then the next one, and the next one."