Fourth of July. DICK’s Sporting Goods Park at 100 percent capacity for the first time in over a year. Fireworks after the match. Fireworks on the field. All of this will be true when Seattle Sounders FC come to the Centennial State this weekend to take on the Rapids.

This is a match we’ve all had circled on our calendars since the schedule was announced. And after falling to Sporting Kansas City last time out, I would all but guarantee the Rapids are champing at the bit to get back out there and dictate this match from opening kickoff.

The Rave Green boast the best record in the league and are the only unbeaten side left in MLS. It’s a tall task for the Burgundy Boys, to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Here are my three keys to help make that happen.

Clinical on Counters

Seattle has conceded seven goals in 2021 and only two in open play, which both came last weekend at home against the Whitecaps. But Colorado, along with being the best in MLS on set pieces, has proven adept at scoring on counters. If the Rapids utilize their speed and quality service into the box, they could make life difficult for the Sounders’ defenders and inexperienced goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland.

Wrangle Ruidíaz

The Peruvian striker is second in MLS with nine goals in 2021. In his first three seasons in MLS, Ruidíaz scored 10, 11 and 12 goals. Already nearing double digits, he appears set to obliterate his personal record. With winger Jordan Morris sidelined with a long-term injury, the key to stifling the Sounders is preventing Ruidíaz from punishing you. Easier said than done, as most in the league already know, but not impossible. The Rapids are tied for second-fewest goals conceded in the West with 11, and you know they’ve been working on fixing what went wrong in Kansas City when the team gave up three goals.

Feed Off The Crowd

With DICK’s Sporting Goods Park back at max capacity for the first time since March 2020, and with the team at the top of the table visiting – not to mention the Rapids will be retiring club legend Pablo Mastroeni’s No. 25 after the match – this game may well have a playoff atmosphere. The current weather report looks promising (long way to go though!), the tailgating will be in rare form and the crowd is going to have just that little bit extra juice with fireworks following the match. It’s Sunday night soccer on the Fourth of July against the best in the West; if you can’t get up for this one, check your pulse. Get the crowd involved early, take some shots on goal, press and win the ball, be lethal on set pieces and give the fans a reason to get out of their seats. We know athletes feed off electric atmospheres, and we know crowds get excited for exciting soccer. If the Rapids provide reason to cheer, DSGP will come alive. If DSGP comes alive, the Rapids will have that extra gear down the stretch.

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