COMMERCE CITY, Colo. ― The Colorado Rapids (12-4-9, 45 points) will look to gain ground on the top spots in the Western Conference when they host 2021 expansion side Austin FC (6-16-4, 22 points) on Wednesday, Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 7 PM at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. The match will be locally televised on Altitude Sports, with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30 PM, as well as Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM with pregame coverage starting at 6:45 PM.
“We feel like we have to improve. We have to continue to improve,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said ahead of Wednesday’s match. “Four ties in a row are better than four losses in a row, if you want to look at the glass half full versus half empty. But we just need to continue to be efficient with the ball and create good chances and with composure, finish those chances. Going back to a couple games ago, just continue to have the mentality to see out games. As we get closer to the end of the year, everything becomes more and more important and it’s about the fine details.”
The Rapids enter the match on a league-best, 11-game unbeaten streak and are unbeaten in their last 12 at DICK'S Sporting Goods Park. On Saturday against Toronto, goalkeeper William Yarbrough made two saves to tie an individual single-season club record with this 10th clean sheet of the 2021, which is second-best in MLS.
With nine games remaining in the regular season, the Rapids are in third place in the Western Conference, just three points behind first-place Seattle. Colorado has two matches remaining against the Sounders, including a trip to Lumen Field on Sunday, Oct. 3, and a visit from the PNW club on Oct. 20.
Saturday’s match was Fraser’s 50th regular season game as Rapids head coach. Since his first game on Aug. 31, 2019, Colorado’s 25 wins, 87 points, 82 goals scored and 17 clean sheets under Fraser are all the most by a Rapids head coach through their first 50 games in charge since the introduction of draws in MLS in 2000.
Yarbrough has been among the best goalkeepers in MLS this season. His 12 wins are the second-most in the league, while his 76.24 save percentage is third-best among goalkeepers with at least 10 appearances. Since Colorado’s current unbeaten streak began, Yarbrough has conceded just eight goals and posted four clean sheets and an 82.98 save percentage, all second-best in MLS.
This is the last match of a three-game homestand and the third and final meeting of the season between Colorado and Austin. On April 24, Andre Shinyashiki scored the Rapids’ first goal of the season before Austin rattled off three goals in 12 minutes in the second half to earn its first ever MLS victory. Then on July 31, Shinyashiki scored again to lead the Rapids to a 1-0 win at Q2 Stadium that kicked off their current six-game road unbeaten streak, which matches a club record set in 2016.
Michael Barrios leads the club with seven goals, while captain Jack Price’s nine assists are tied for fifth in MLS. Recent matches have seen Brazilian left back Lucas Esteves make his first six appearances since joining from Palmeiras on loan, as well as Designated Player Younes Namli return from injury after four months away.
Austin snapped a five-game losing streak with a 2-0 win over LA Galaxy on Sunday. Recently signed Senegalese forward Moussa Djitté scored his first goal since making his MLS debut on Aug. 21, before Orrin McKinze Gaines II made it 2-0.
Diego Fagundez leads Austin with six goals, while Cecilio Dominguez has five goals and four assists. Verdes goalkeeper Brad Stuver leads MLS with 112 saves.
After Saturday’s match, the Rapids head out on a three-game road trip, beginning on Sunday in Seattle. The Burgundy Boys then visit Minnesota on Oct. 9 before a battle with Real Salt Lake for the Rocky Mountain Cup on Oct. 16. Starting with Sunday’s match in Seattle, five of Colorado’s last eight matches are on the road, and six of those are against teams currently in a playoff spot.
“It’s obviously frustrating that we’re not getting the wins that we want but we do have the belief that we are creating enough chances to win games,” Shinyashiki said after training Tuesday. “I think there has been a couple games this year that shouldn’t have gone our way and have. Those last four draws, we probably should have won a couple of them. It’s a long season and you’re going to have those spells where things don’t go your way. We’re still getting points but ultimately we want to get back to winning ways on Wednesday.”
News & Notes
- Mark-Anthony Kaye is 90 minutes from tying his 2021 season total while with Los Angeles FC.
- Jack Price’s next assist will be his 30th since joining Colorado in 2018 and pass Ross Paule for sole possession of third on the club’s all-time list. Price is tied for fifth in MLS with nine assists this season.
- Auston Trusty’s next start will be his 30th with Colorado.
- William Yarbrough’s next shutout will be his 11th of 2021, setting a Rapids individual single-season record. Colorado set a team record with 13 clean sheets in 2016.