After a busy week, the Colorado Rapids (8-4-3, 27 points) will host first-place Sporting Kansas City (10-4-3, 33 points) at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on Saturday, Aug. 7. Kickoff is set for 7 PM, with pregame coverage beginning on Altitude Sports at 6:30 p.m. and on Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM at 6:45 PM.
“This is obviously a big game for us. Kansas City is playing well,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “They’ve just gone into first place with a resounding win last night. Obviously, we had a tough time with them at their place. They’re a very good team. We just know that we need to be as clear as possible in how we want to deal with them and as good as possible with the ball. It’s a real test. When you play the best teams in the league, you have to play well.”
This week saw the Rapids welcome new acquisitions Mark-Anthony Kaye and Dominique Badji to the locker room. Kaye was acquired in a blockbuster trade from Los Angeles FC last Tuesday, while Badji returns for his second stint with the club after being acquired from Nashville SC last Thursday. Yesterday, the club traded Nicolas Benezet to Seattle in exchange for $50,000 GAM. Also on Thursday, the Rapids announced the transfer of left back Sam Vines, a Rapids Academy product and U.S. Men’s National Team defender, to Belgian side Royal Antwerp FC.
“Honestly, I’m really excited for him. He’s a player who went away on loan to Charlotte, gained some experience, came back, got thrown into the fire and really since I’ve been here, two years now, he’s just continued to get better and better,” Fraser said of Vines during his media availability on Thursday. “I think we all have a sense of pride that we’ve helped shape him and help get him to the point where he’s consistently on the national team and doing well, not only at club but internationally as well. It’s something we all take pride in. While we’re definitely sad to see him go, we’re really excited for him and hope he has a great career there.”
The Rapids will look to build off Saturday’s 1-0 win at Austin FC. Andre Shinyashiki scored the game’s only goal when he won a battle with Verdes goalkeeper Brad Stuver to force the ball into the net. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough made two saves to earn his seventh clean sheet of the season, tied for second-most in MLS.
“It’s a group effort. Those clean sheets are the entire team’s,” Yarbrough said of the club’s recent performances. “It starts with forwards defending. The way we press and the way we move together. I think the back line, in particular has been outstanding this season. I don’t like taking any of the credit for that. It’s a team effort and I think the team should be credited for seven clean sheets. Obviously, it’s a confidence booster when you go into the next game coming off of a clean sheet. It’s motivating because it means you’re on the right track, doing things correctly. Hopefully we can continue on that road.”
Michael Barrios leads the Rapids with four goals and four assists and was named to the MLS Week 16 Team of the Week bench after helping set up Shinyashiki’s goal against Austin. Captain Jack Price leads the team with five assists.
Colorado is unbeaten in its last seven matches against Sporting KC at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. The club is also unbeaten in its last seven matches at home, going 5-0-2 (W-L-D) since May 8. The Rapids hold the second-best home record in the Western Conference this season.
Sporting KC enters the match on short rest following its 4-1 win at LAFC on Wednesday. The Midwestern side raced out to a 3-0 first-half lead with goals from Alan Pulido, Luis Martins and Daniel Salloi before Gadi Kinda scored their fourth of the match in the 58th minute. The win pushed Sporting ahead of Seattle Sounders FC for first place in the Western Conference.
Salloi is tied for second in MLS with 10 goals, while he and Khiry Shelton lead the team with five assists each.
This is the second of three meetings between these teams this season. On June 23, Colorado fell, 3-0, at Children’s Mercy Park. The Rapids visit SKC again on Aug. 28. After this match, the Rapids are on the road for four of their next five.
Saturday’s match will be the first since Kellyn Acosta and Jonathan Lewis returned from winning the Gold Cup with the USMNT, as well as the first since Kaye and Badji joined the group.
News & Notes
- The club’s next home win will be its 200th all-time in the regular season. The club reached 200 all-time regular season clean sheets on Saturday in Austin.
- Colorado boasts the highest shot conversion rate (inc. blocks) at home in MLS, at 14.81 percent. The Rapids have scored 16 goals on 108 shots at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park this season.
- Michael Barrios has five goals and four assists in 16 career games against Sporting KC.
- Dominique Badji has two goals in 10 career appearances against Sporting KC, including one with the Rapids in March 2018, a 2-2 draw at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. Diego Rubio scored the equalizer for Sporting in stoppage time in that match.
- Kellyn Acosta leads MLS with 2.6 tackles won per game among players with at least 10 games played. Acosta is six tackles off the league lead despite having played at least five fewer games than any player with more tackles won than him.
- Dominique Badji’s next goal will be his 25th with Colorado, which would pass D Marcelo Balboa for sole possession of eighth on the club’s all-time scoring list.
- Mark-Anthony Kaye’s next goal will be his first with Colorado and the 10th of his career. Kaye is two assists away from 20 in his career.
- Michael Barrios is two assists away from the 50th of his MLS career. Barrios would be the 11th active player to reach the milestone.
- Jack Price’s next assist will be his 26th in MLS, tying M Dillon Powers for fifth-most in club history.
- Auston Trusty’s next appearance will be the 80th of his MLS career.
- Collen Warner’s next start will be the 160th of his MLS career.
- William Yarbrough is tied for second in MLS with seven clean sheets.