This Saturday, May 22, the Colorado Rapids will travel to Banc of California Stadium to take on Los Angeles Football Club. The Rapids are one of the hottest teams in MLS, in the midst of a three-game win streak that has seen the side score six total goals in the last two games. Here’s what you need to know about the Rapids’ next opponent.
The Rapids and their fellow Western Conference club LAFC did not meet in 2020. The last time these two sides faced off was instead on Decision Day at the end of the 2019 season, resulting in a 3-1 win for the California side. Earlier in 2019, Colorado got a 1-0 win over LAFC at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in what was a bit of a coming out party for left back Sam Vines, who effectively shut down Designated Player Carlos Vela for the full 90 minutes.
LAFC has struggled to start the season and is currently in the midst of a two-game losing streak. They haven’t earned a win since their opening game of the season against Austin FC and have failed to earn three points in every match where they concede a goal. It is worth noting, though, that LAFC’s recent defeats have both been as the away side, as they have been on the road for three straight matches.
Key Players to Watch
Vela is no doubt a star of LAFC, but he has played minimal minutes so far this season as he continues to recover from injury. He played 22 minutes in the opening game of the year and returned for the first time since, playing the final 20 minutes in the loss to Seattle. If there were no setbacks in his return, one would think those minutes would increase this weekend.
When Vela is healthy, he is a major threat. The Mexican forward broke the MLS record for the most goals in a single season with 34 in 2019. Since then, he has been plagued with injury woes that saw him play only seven matches out of LAFC’s total of 22 last year - with only four of those coming from the start.
But before you feel too bad for LAFC and Vela, don’t forget they still have Diego Rossi, the 2020 Golden Boot winner in MLS. Last year marked the first time in MLS history that the Golden Boot winners were different players from the same team in back-to-back seasons. But Rossi has struggled with injury as well. He missed the first two games of the 2021 season, but he has since played the full 90 minutes in three straight contests.
Over the last two years, the duo of Rossi and Vela have both started for LAFC a total of four times in the regular season. Based on recent trends, thought, it seems they may actually both return to the starting lineup on Saturday for the Rapids matchup.
From the Team
Head coach Robin Fraser on the team’s philosophy heading into the matchup against LAFC.
“Stick to the principles. The principles that we’ve talked about, the principles that we’re now executing on [and] have been for the last number of games. It’s going to be, stick to the principles. LAFC is an excellent team. It’s going to be a huge test for us. It’s so much more at this point about us continuing to do the things that we’re doing and getting better at the things we’re trying to get better at.”