Match Day

Preview | Colorado Rapids look to maintain home advantage in series against LAFC


COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids (1-2-2, 5 pts) look to extend their four-game unbeaten streak at home in the series against LAFC (2-2-1, 7 pts), with the Rapids collecting three wins and a draw in the last four matchups at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. The teams’ next head-to-head is set for Saturday, March 30, at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park (2 p.m. MT; Apple TV – MLS Season Pass, Altitude Sports Radio 950AM).

The Rapids enter the match after they were shut out for the first time this season, bringing their three-game unbeaten run to a close. Colorado fell to the visiting Houston Dynamo FC, 1-0, last Saturday night, as the Texas side capitalized on a counterattack after defender Andreas Maxsø received contact to the face in the opposing box in second-half stoppage time. The two sides battled for dominance in the center of the pitch for most of the night, until Houston found the back of the net in the 96th minute. 

Club captain Keegan Rosenberry marked his 146th regular-season appearance, moving into sixth place in club history, surpassing Kyle Beckerman. Additionally, winger and 2024 SuperDraft pick Kimani Stewart-Baynes made his MLS debut, substituting for Homegrown midfielder Oliver Larraz in the 82nd minute. Larraz extended his streak with a fifth-consecutive appearance, surpassing his previous single-season career high in MLS (4, 2021). Defender Sam Vines recorded his 54th start with the club tonight, tying Dillon Serna for the second-most starts recorded by a Homegrown player in club history. Meanwhile, forward Darren Yapi made his 36th appearance with the club, surpassing Kortne Ford for the fifth-most appearances recorded by a Homegrown player in club history (35).

Colorado will welcome back defender Moïse Bombito, who was called up to represent Canada at the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League Play-In. Canada defeated Trinidad & Tobago, 2-0, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on March 23 to claim one of the final two Concacaf spots at the 2024 Copa América, jointly organized by CONMEBOL and Concacaf. 

LAFC enter the match after securing their second win of the season with a 5-0 victory over Nashville SC at home last week. Timothy Tillman opened the scoring in the 9th minute, followed by a brace from Dénis Bouanga, who converted a penalty in the 18th minute after Tillman was fouled in the box and scored again in the 48th minute. Nashville SC's goalkeeper Joe Willis received a red card in the 62nd minute for a handball outside of the box, forcing Nashville to play the remainder of the match with ten men. Cristian Olivera added a goal in the 75th minute, while Eduard Atuesta sealed the victory with the fifth goal in stoppage time (90+6).

Since LAFC played their first MLS match on March 31, 2018, the clubs have met 10 times in the regular season. Colorado holds the advantage in meetings at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park with a record of 3-1-1 (W-L-D). Although Colorado lost to LAFC in their first meeting at home on Oct. 6, 2018, they have not lost since, posting a record of 3-0-1 in subsequent matches. LAFC leads in overall regular-season meetings with a record of 6-3-1. In 2023, LAFC had the edge in the series, with the first match ending in a 0-0 draw at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park and the second match resulting in a 4-0 defeat for the Rapids at BMO Stadium. 

LAFC, led by MLS 2023 Golden Boot Winner Bouanga, who recently inked a multi-year extension, welcomes a host of new additions. These include 2018 World Cup-winning goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, defenders Omar Campos, Maxime Chanot and Lorenzo Dellavalle, midfielder Atuesta, making a return to LAFC on loan, and forwards David Martínez and Tomás Ángel.

In Saturday’s match, there are several connections between the two teams. Rapids head coach Chris Armas has notable ties to LAFC defender Aaron Long, having coached him in 58 matches across all competitions while at RBNY from 2018 to 2020. Rapids forward Omir Fernandez also shares a connection with Long, as they appeared in 54 matches together across all competitions while at RBNY from 2019 to 2022. Furthermore, Armas has a history with LAFC assistant coach Ante Razov, as they played alongside each other in 132 matches across all competitions while at Chicago Fire FC from 1998 to 2004. Additionally, Armas and LAFC Co-President and General Manager John Thorrington were teammates, playing together in 11 matches across all competitions during their time at Chicago Fire FC from 2005 to 2007. Armas and Razov also played together in nine matches across all competitions while at LA Galaxy from 1996 to 1997.

Lastly, Rapids forward Rafael Navarro and LAFC midfielder Atuesta share a current connection, both being on loan from Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras in Brazil.

Connections extend internationally as well. Armas and Razov played together in 18 USMNT matches, while Armas also shared the field with LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo in 14 matches. On the opposing side, LAFC defender Aaron Long has crossed paths with multiple Rapids players on the national team stage, including Zack Steffen in 14 matches, Djordje Mihailovic in five matches, Jonathan Lewis in four matches, and Vines in four matches, all representing the U.S. Men's National Team.

The match also holds significant memories. On Aug23, 2023, Rapids forward Navarro made his club and MLS debut against LAFC. In the same match, Rosenberry notched his 135th appearance for the Rapids, surpassing Paul Bravo for the ninth-most appearances in club history.