After a tough defeat in Frisco, the Rapids are back on the road this weekend. This time it’s a trip up north to the Twin Cities to take on Minnesota United FC. Both teams are 2-2-2 after six games, and both have a zero goal differential.

The two sides faced off three times in 2021, and the Rapids completed the season sweep by going 3-0-0. The finale, at Allianz Field in St. Paul, saw a 10-man Rapids side come back from down 1-0 to win 3-1. Every game matters, but it was maybe the most vital match of the season for Colorado. It was an invaluable 3 points in the middle of the toughest road trip of the year. It was the difference that won the West for Colorado.

2022 will see the two sides only square off twice: once in the Land of 10,000 Lakes and once at elevation in Colorado. Both teams have high ambitions this season. They both made the postseason in 2021, and neither side sees that as a fluke. They’re both beginning to expect to be in the postseason every fall in MLS.

That means these matches against each other end up being six point swings against your direct competition for playoff positioning. In 2021, Minnesota coughed up two leads against the Rapids. They finished six points behind the Portland Timbers. They traveled to Portland for their first round playoff game and their season ended there. The points in these matches are pivotal. They’re the difference between making the playoffs or staying home, between hosting playoff games or having to get on a plane.

The Loons are still managed by Adrian Heath. The Englishman has been in charge for their entire MLS history which began with the 2017 season. And they still have the sublime Argentine Emanuel Reynoso pulling the strings from the midfield. The Rapids face a stiff test against a good goalkeeper, good defense and some exciting playmakers. Here’s how they can bounce back with a positive result.

Score Once and Score Again

Through six games in 2022, Minnesota’s scoring output looks like this: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0. They’ve yet to score multiple goals, and just got shutout by Austin FC last weekend. In 2021, they scored the fewest goals of the seven teams in the Western Conference playoffs with a meager 42. They will be completely fine and in their element trying to win this game 1-0. They have a defense capable of shutting the door. But the Rapids may just have the Loons’ number after scoring eight goals in three games last season.

Don’t Play Their Game

Heath is one of the better motivators in MLS. You never see his teams quit or give up, they fight and claw for 50/50 balls and they aren’t afraid to be physical. One goal of Minnesota’s will be to prevent the Rapids from playing their style, from connecting lots of passes in the buildup and executing long diagonal switches. Jack Price, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Danny Wilson will have their work cut out for them getting time on the ball and picking out inch-perfect passes.

On Your Left

If the middle of the field is clogged and bogged down by a feisty Minnesota defense, the Rapids can get wide and lean on the service of Lucas Esteves who is having himself a fantastic start to the season. In his last four games, the Brazilian left-back has three assists. When he arrived, you saw glimpses of just how good his passing could be, but he has taken it to the next level this year. He will be involved in the attack as he makes runs up the left wing, he will get good opportunities to whip balls into the middle. Until somebody proves they can slow him down or stop him, expect the Rapids' forward momentum to continue funneling through his left foot.