Who would have thought that the two sides which put on a pulsating performance in the Western Conference Semifinals last year would come together the following September in a battle to avoid being the bottom side in all of MLS?
Well, that is the scenario facing both the Colorado Rapids (6-15-4 - 22pts) and LA Galaxy (6-14-5 - 23pts) inside StubHub Center this Saturday (Altitude 9:00 p.m MT), with the pair desperately yearning a pick-me-up as they enter the final nine games of the season.
For the Rapids, this match marks a third of four road games in a row. They have lost the previous two, at Portland Timbers (2-1) and Real Salt Lake (4-1). On the weekend that the Rapids were humbled by Rocky Mountain rivals RSL, the Galaxy were being handed their eighth home reversal of the season in a 3-0 loss to San Jose Earthquakes. With last Sunday’s loss, LA have now gone 10 games without a win (0-9-1), and - for the first time in franchise history - have been shutout in the last four home encounters.
Both teams will be missing players due to international commitments. The Rapids will be minus Tim Howard (USA) and Mekeil Williams (Trinidad & Tobago), while LA must do without Giovani and Jonathan dos Santos (Mexico). On top of that, the two MLS originals will each have one player serving a suspension, having been sent off in the last game. Alan Gordon will miss going up against his former club, after being dismissed for two bookable offenses at Rio Tinto Stadium. Nathan Smith was shown a straight red during the game with the Quakes.
Zac MacMath is expected to return for the Rapids. He has been unavailable the past five games, after undergoing knee surgery on August 1. Stefan Aigner may just find himself among the 18. He has yet to make his MLS debut following a move from German club 1860 Munich.
Former Chelsea, Arsenal and England defender Ashley Cole should return for the Galaxy. He was suspended for the San Jose clash after being sent off in the 2-0 loss at Columbus Crew SC on August 23. The Galaxy could also call upon former Rapids midfielder Jermaine Jones. He was on the bench for the Galaxy’s last game. And Romain Alessandrini is expected to be available. The side’s top scorer was a late scratch last Sunday after his girlfriend went into labor ahead of schedule. Daughter Naomi was born on Wednesday.
LA Galaxy are enduring one of the worst seasons in franchise history due - in the main - to their horrific home form (1-8-4). Colorado, meanwhile, have failed to kick on from the heights of 2016, not helped by their terrible road form (0-10-2).
Incidentally, only Toronto FC (six) have won more games away from home this season than the Galaxy (five). Colorado, on the other hand, are one of only two teams in MLS still looking for their first road success of the season, but they may not get a better chance to remedy that than this weekend.
Rapids: Alan Gordon (out - suspended), Tim Howard (out - international duty), Mekeil Williams (out - international duty)
Galaxy: Pele van Anholt (out - ACL/meniscus), Clement Diop (out - international duty), Giovani dos Santos (out - international duty), Jonathan dos Santos (out - international duty), Baggio Husidic (out - fibula), Sebastian Lletget (out - foot), Robbie Rogers (out - ankle), Nathan Smith (out - suspended)
HOW TO FOLLOW
Radio: Altitude 950; La Invasora 87.7FM (Spanish)
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Assistant (bench): Mike Kampmeinert
Assistant (opposite): Felisha Mariscal
Fourth Official: Daniel Radford
VAR: Jon Freemon