COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- For the Rapids to collect their third straight win, they’ll have to pass arguably their most difficult test of the season to date.
Backed by one of the league’s toughest defenses so far this season (only Seattle has conceded fewer goals than Colorado), the Rapids faces a major litmus test in San Jose’s high-powered offense in a key Western Conference clash at Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday night (8:30 p.m. MT, Altitude TV].
The Rapids have allowed just two goals in their last six games and have posted back-to-back shutout victories, including a 2-0 win at Columbus last week.
But now they'll go up against Chris Wondolowski, who scored a hat trick in the ‘Quakes’ 4-1 win in Colorado last October, for the first time this season, something that Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja knows will be a stiff challenge for his young back line.
“The key is to be organized,” Pareja said of stopping Wondolowski. “We keep our ideas defensively, we keep our same concepts. But then, what changes is the tendency [that] these guys have, we are aware of.”
Pareja's defense could have another key player back in the fold on Saturday night. Right back Marvell Wynne is an option for the Rapids following a three-game absence with a right quadriceps injury, with the speedster training fully for the majority of this week.
“Marv is ready to go,” Pareja said on Thursday. “[The] good news is that he’s healed and he’s available. He’s in the equation.”
The Rapids, finally, will try and put to bed scarring memories of the teams’ three meetings last season, which saw the Earthquakes win all three games, including a 4-1 romp at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in the two teams’ last meeting in October, and a gut-wrenching 2-1 win last June where San Jose scored twice in the game’s final 10 minutes to pick up all three points.
“Sometimes, those are the games that teach you the most,” Pareja said of last season’s losses. “But I was saying to the boys [Tuesday] morning, we have those sore memories [from] last year. We want to turn that around. We want to change it."
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.