Colorado Rapids

Keys against New York: Keep cool under pressure & repeat history


Due to an unusual scheduling quirk, the Rapids have a Tuesday night match in Harrison, New Jersey against the New York Red Bulls. The game was moved from the original date of July 30th so the Red Bulls could fit in a friendly against FC Barcelona. The entire Red Bulls roster saw minutes in the match, which ended in a 2-0 loss for the MLS side. Now they’ll have a short recovery and quick turnaround before playing again on Tuesday.

The friendly came just three days after their prior match, a midweek loss in the US Open Cup semis on the road in the muggy heat of Orlando. They’ll enter the match against Colorado after suffering back-to-back losses but neither in league play. So they still sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, but nine points behind first place Philadelphia.

Led by Scottish forward Lewis Morgan and his nine goals, the Red Bulls have continued to utilize the high press they’re famous for. But along with stars like Morgan, defender Aaron Long and midfielder Luquinhas, they’re getting excellent performances from their depth pieces, which is usually the difference between the playoffs or staying home in the fall.

It’s the second of two trips to the New York area for the Colorado in 2022, so here’s what they can do to get a result.

Cool Under Pressure

Nobody in MLS pressures quite like the New York Red Bulls. It’s been their modus operandi for years and years, it’s evolved under different coaches and, most importantly, it’s effective this season. They have the most tackles, pressures and second-most interceptions in MLS this year. When the Rapids are on the ball, the Red Bulls are going to be right there with them. Composure on the ball and taking what the defense gives them is going to be the main key for the Rapids. The Red Bulls are tough, relentless and good. The Rapids have to be up for the challenge.

Counter the Counter

The Red Bulls have won just three games at Red Bull Arena in 2022. They’ve won seven road games. It’s one of the strangest dynamics I’ve seen. There are myriad factors why this is happening, but I’d bet one of them is style of play. In soccer, home teams prefer to dictate matches and how they go. Visiting teams let the game come to them, and work from there. But the Red Bulls style of play suits them better on the road than at home. Home teams feel they need to push, and that plays right into the Red Bulls’ hands. But at home, fewer teams push up. They wait for the Red Bulls to initiate. Well, that doesn’t allow the Red Bulls to effectively deploy their press. The Red Bulls turn turnovers into scoring opportunities in bunches. The Rapids have a similar style when on the road, as well. They can beat the Red Bulls at their own game Tuesday night. Whichever side is better at taking the ball from the feet of their opponent, rushing forward as a unit and making crisp passes, they’re going home with the spoils.

Repeat the Past

The last time these two teams tussled was 2019, and it was also at Red Bull Arena. It was Robin Fraser’s first game in charge of the Burgundy Boys, and he led the squad to a 2-0 victory thanks to a brace from winger Jonathan Lewis. Speaking of Lewis, he has two assists and a goal in his last two appearances. He has perhaps become the biggest beneficiary of the arrival of Gyasi Zardes. With Zardes and Diego Rubio running in the middle of the park, Lewis is given space on the wing. Space to create, drive at opponents, sneak in behind, breakaway.