Colorado Rapids

Keys against LA: Rely on Rubio, expect a shootout


With their backs against the wall, the Colorado Rapids needed six points from two home games. And thanks to five goals in those two games, and a complete team effort, they earned all six. Their three top goal scorers found the back of the net in the first match, and then Keegan Rosenberry, adding to Diego Rubio’s opener, catapulted Colorado to victory with a goal that will live long in memory.

They did their job for the 180 minutes at home. They got six points, and took advantage of their rivals giving away points. Now they can get three more points and simultaneously elevate beyond one of their playoff rivals. Saturday night, the club will be in Carson, California to square off against the Los Angeles Galaxy. A win would see the Rapids leapfrog the Southern California MLS originals, putting yet another team in the rearview mirror. If the Rapids are to make the playoffs in 2022, this match is as much a must-win as a match can be even if the math says it isn’t.

In the Rapids favor is current form and recent trends. The Galaxy are winless in their last four with three draws and one loss. Beyond that, the head to head results between the Rapids and Galaxy favor Colorado, as well. The Rapids haven’t lost to the Galaxy since September 2nd, 2017. That’s just over five years, and an eight match span. Only the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls have recorded longer unbeaten streaks against LA, both with nine and the Sounders current.

With everything left to play for, here’s how the Rapids can get three more points and climb the Western Conference table.

Rely on Rubio

Forward Diego Rubio has put this team on his back in 2022. A major reason the club is still in the playoff race despite the injuries and bad luck they’ve faced this season is Rubio. He has elevated his play and tallied 14 goals. There are three games left for him to get to 16 which would tie the club single season record set by Conor Casey in 2009. I’ll go ahead and lay down a marker: if the Rapids make the playoffs, it’ll be because Diego Rubio ties and/or breaks that record. They will need him to continue producing the way he has all year long. And with the pressure on, I’m not sure there’s anybody I trust more than Rubio.

Chill Chicharito

On the other side, there’s another forward with 14 goals in 2022. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez. The narrative says the Mexican global superstar has had an up and down season, despite his 14 goals. That’s mostly just because the way Chicharito goes is the way the Galaxy go. When he struggles, they struggle. When he misses penalties, they drop points and fall below the playoff line. I can guarantee you all the money the Galaxy have spent on transfers, in LA, they’re saying he needs to perform and come up big if they want to make the playoffs. And no matter how much he may be in and out of form, he is still a magnificent striker who can be silently stalk for 89 minutes before pouncing on a chance and changing a game in the 90th.

Expect a Shootout

The Galaxy have played 15 home games in 2022. They’ve scored 30 goals, and only been shutout twice. Even with two games going scoreless, they’re still averaging two goals per game on their home pitch. The last time they didn’t score two goals or more at home was the middle of June. Given that both these teams are realistic playoff hopefuls, the beginning of the match may be a cagey affair. Neither team will want to concede the first cut. But once it comes, the gloves will come off and both teams will begin trading punches. The Rapids have proven they can win track meets, they can absorb blows and respond with haymakers. They may need to do just that Saturday night in California.