For the second and final time in the 2021 regular season, the Colorado Rapids will square off against the LA Galaxy. Rewind a couple weeks to the first meeting and recall when the Rapids picked up a 2-1 road victory in Carson, Calif., that helped propel them past the Galaxy in the Western Conference standings.
Expect the Galaxy to remember that and come into this one motivated by the current standings and motivated by a little revenge. Side note: this will be the third meeting between the two friends in charge of each side, Robin Fraser and Greg Vanney. Their relationship goes way back to their playing days, coincidentally with the LA Galaxy.
If everything goes according to plan, the Rapids can be in first place in the West by 5:00 PM MT. All they need is a win and a Seattle Sounders draw or loss at home to Minnesota United FC. The Rapids kick off at 1:30 p.m. MT and Seattle at 3:00 PM MT. Could be some fun scoreboard watching going on right after the final whistle at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park.
So here’s how the Burgundy Boys can get three points and keep their undefeated run going.
Set Piece Success
It’s one of the facets of the identity of this Rapids team, and we’ve discussed it over and over. Earn corner kicks, earn free kicks in dangerous areas, punish opposing defenses. But this key is twofold. First, Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond has conceded the most goals in MLS with 35. He’s played 21 games. Rapids goalkeeper William Yarbrough has played 21 games and conceded 20 goals. Another troubling stat for the Galaxy net-minder is he’s 22nd in MLS among qualified GKs in stopping crosses. According to fbref.com, he stops 5.3% of crosses. The Revolution’s Matt Turner leads the league by stopping 14.2%. With Rapids captain Jack Price sitting this one out due to yellow card accumulation, it is imperative for whoever is delivering crosses to be on the money and consistently testing Bond.
There aren’t many complaints with the 2021 Rapids. The club has one of the of the best coaches and coaching staffs in the league, a goalkeeper putting up a Goalkeeper of the Year performance, a defense that has proven capable of shutting down anybody and depth at nearly every position. And even this is nitpicking, but according to fbref.com, the Rapids xG is 30.3 which is ninth in the West but within striking distance of Minnesota, who are third with an xG of 33.2. With the playoffs looming in just over two months and no team ever being a finished product in early September, this is something I consider a point of emphasis heading into the homestretch. Especially with four of the next five matches at home.
Put on a Show
For the second week in a row, the Rapids are going to be playing on national television, and they’ll be the only MLS match on in the 1:00 PM MT window. All the soccer eyeballs in the country will be on the Burgundy Boys. There probably aren’t very many people left out there still sleeping on this team, but there are people out there trying to gauge if the Rapids are just pretty good or MLS Cup contenders. Go out and show them what the rest of us have been watching since April.