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Preview: Rapids Look to Top Western Conference Table Against Visiting LA Galaxy

First place in the Western Conference is up for grabs when the Colorado Rapids (12-4-5, 41 points) host the LA Galaxy (11-8-3, 36 points) on Saturday, Sept. 11. Kickoff is set for 1:30 PM at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. The match will be nationally televised on Univision and TUDN and streamed in English on Twitter. Fans can also tune into SiriusXM FC, as well as Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM, for pregame coverage beginning at 1 PM.

“[LA Galaxy are] a good team and really well coached,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said. “I’m sure that [Galaxy coach Greg Vanney] is going to do something a little bit different. We’ll have to be ready to deal with it. They have a lot of very good attacking players. If we can contain their attack, we’ll see if we can unbalance them on the other side of the field.”

Colorado enters the match 5-0-2 (W-L-D) in its last seven matches and in second place in the Western Conference, one point behind Seattle with a game in hand. The Rapids can jump into first place, at least temporarily, with a win on Saturday, as Sounders FC kicks off against Minnesota at 3 p.m. The Galaxy, meanwhile, are in fourth in the West, five points behind Colorado with one more game played.

“We really focus on our performance and adhering to our principles. We feel like when we do that, we get good results. It just doesn’t make sense for us to start talking about where we are because we’re in the middle of the season and no one’s winning anything in the middle of the season,” Fraser continued. “For us, it’s continuing to work on the principles that have gotten us into a pretty good spot. As I’ve said a number of times recently, success is fleeting. We know that. We take a second to appreciate it but more than that, it’s working on the things we think can bring us more success.”

The Rapids will look to extend their current home unbeaten streak to 10 games on Saturday. The Burgundy Boys are 6-0-3 in their last nine at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. In their last home match on Aug. 21, Diego Rubio and Mark-Anthony Kaye scored to lead the Rapids to a 2-1, come-from-behind victory over Rocky Mountain Cup rival Real Salt Lake.

On Saturday in San Jose, Dominique Badji scored his first goal since re-joining the club via trade in late July to lead the Rapids to a 1-0 win over the Quakes. Three substitutes combined for the game-winning goal, as Jonathan Lewis found Nico Mezquida, who fed Badji for hist first-time strike in the 89th minute.

Badji’s goal earned him a spot on the Week 23 MLS Team of the Week bench, while Michael Barrios was named to the week’s best XI for his performance against San Jose. It marked the fifth time in the last six weeks that the Rapids have had at least one player selected to the Team of the Week.

Barrios leads the team with five goals, while his four assists trail only captain Jack Price, who has seven. Price is suspended for Saturday’s match due to yellow card accumulation. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough, who made a crucial, point-blank save in stoppage time to secure three points in San Jose, is tied for the league lead with nine clean sheets.

This is the second and final meeting of the season between these teams. On Aug. 17, Jonathan Lewis converted from the penalty spot and Andre Shinyashiki scored the game-winning header one minute after entering the match to secure a 2-1 win in Carson, Calif. The win capped a six-point road trip after the Rapids handed Houston its first home loss of the season three days earlier.

Since the visit from Colorado, LA has picked up one point from two matches. The Galaxy lost, 2-1, to San Jose on Aug. 20, before a thrilling, 3-3 draw against LAFC in El Trafico on Aug. 28.

Rayan Raveloson, who equalized against Colorado in the Aug. 17 match, is second on the team with five goals. Julian Araujo leads the team with six assists. Mexican star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez leads LA with 10 goals but hasn’t played since June 26, though Vanney announced Thursday he will be available for selection on Saturday. Rapids Designated Player Younes Namli, who has missed the last four months with injury, is also available for selection for the match.

Clubs around MLS will be commemorating 20 years since 9/11 with acts of service and moments of remembrance during all MLS matches played in the U.S. on Saturday. Prior to the match, more than 60 recruits and instructors from the North Area Fire Academy will do a stair climb at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park equivalent to 110 flights of stairs – the height of the World Trade Center towers. For more information, click here

September also marks the eighth annual “Kick Childhood Cancer” campaign, which will benefit Children’s Oncology Foundation, to raise awareness of pediatric cancers and fundraise for childhood cancer research. Throughout September, MLS clubs will use commemorative Kick Childhood Cancer MLS adidas Nativo 21 game balls, as well as gold corner flags, goal nets and more. Click here for more information

“The thing we’re doing right is just playing for each other,” Yarbrough said. “The team’s mentality is fantastic right now. Robin’s idea has sat very well within the locker room. Just the fight. You can see it every weekend. Guys are willing to fight 90 minutes and they leave everything out there. Fortunately, we have subs who are just as committed, so you don’t really feel a difference when subs come on. They pick up right where the other guys left off. I just see it every week, the fight that everyone has for each other, for the team, for the crest we’re wearing. That personality is what’s helped us get certain results.”

News & Notes

  • With five wins and two draws in their last seven games, the Rapids have picked up 17 of the last 21 possible points, marking their best run of form over seven games in the two years since HC Robin Fraser took over.
  • In 12 games since the Fourth of July, the Rapids are 7-1-4 (W-L-D), which is the second-best record in MLS in that time. Colorado’s 2.08 points per game trail only New England at 2.33. The Rapids have conceded the fewest goals (9) and are tied for the most clean sheets with five.
  • The match will pit former teammates Robin Fraser and Greg Vanney against each other for the second time this season. The two played five years together for the Galaxy in the late 90s and served on each other’s coaching staffs at Chivas USA and Toronto FC.
  • Dominique Badji’s next appearance will be the 150th of his MLS career and his 95th with the club.
  • Cole Bassett has four goals and three assists in 11 career matches in September, his most productive month.
  • Andre Shinyashiki has four goals and two assists in 11 career matches in September, his most productive month.
  • Drew Moor’s next start will be the 370th of his MLS career, passing Nashville M Dax McCarty for sole possession of fifth-most in MLS history, and his 186th with Colorado, second-most in club history. Moor is two appearances away from 400 in his 17-year MLS career.
  • Kellyn Acosta’s next start will be the 160th of his MLS career, while his next assist will be his 20th.