COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado Rapids (10-12-9, 39 pts) will look to continue gaining ground on a playoff spot as they visit the LA Galaxy (11-12-7, 40 pts) at Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday, September 17 (8:30 p.m. MT; Altitude Sports, Altitude Sports Radio 92.5 FM).
Robin Fraser’s side enter Saturday’s match on a three-game unbeaten streak following a 2-1 win at home over the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday. Forward Diego Rubio scored the opening goal for Colorado, his 21st goal contribution of the year (14 goals, 7 assists), tying Mark Chung (21; 2002) and John Spencer (21 in 2001) for the most goal contributions in a single season in club history. The goal marked the Chilean’s team-leading 14th goal of the season; only Conor Casey (16 in 2009) has scored more in a single regular season in Rapids history. Rubio has now contributed to a goal in each of his last eight home matches (six goals, two assists).
Rapids defender Keegan Rosenberry was named to the MLS Team of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal in the win against San Jose. The fullback hit a powerful, right-footed strike from outside the box to beat J.T. Marcinkowski and ensure the Rapids kept their playoff hopes alive heading into their final three games of the regular season.
Colorado has enjoyed recent success against LA, currently unbeaten across their last eight MLS matches (6-0-2), which is tied for the longest unbeaten run by either team in the history of the series (LA went unbeaten for seven straight from July 1997 to March 1999). Including playoffs, only the Seattle SounderS FC (9; 2019 – present) and Red Bulls (9; 2003-06) have ever recorded longer unbeaten runs against the Galaxy. In their last meeting, the Rapids came away with a 2-0 win at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in which Gyasi Zardes and Rubio netted a goal apiece, while Jonathan Lewis recorded assists on both goals.
The Rapids will be facing an LA side that saw a six-match unbeaten run end midweek in a 3-0 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Mexican international Javier “Chicharito” Hernándezleads his side with 14 goals in this 2022 account, while defender Julian Araujo has been the top deliverer with seven assists. In goal, Jonathan Bond has recorded seven clean sheets this season.
Saturday’s match will see several familiar faces reunite. The Galaxy selected current Rapids head coach Robin Fraser with the fourth overall pick in the 1996 MLS Inaugural Player Draft. Fraser would go on to make 129 regular-season appearances for Los Angeles from 1996 to 2000. During his time in LA, Fraser was named to the league’s best XI four times (1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000) and was named MLS Defender of the Year in 1999 prior to being traded to Colorado ahead of the 2001 season. Zardes is also no stranger to the Galaxy as the Hawthorne, California, is a Galaxy Academy product who signed a Homegrown Player contract with the club in 2012. He helped LA win the 2014 MLS Cup and made 147 regular-season appearances for the Galaxy, scoring 34 goals and assisting 17 from 2013 to 2017.
On the visitors’ side, LA Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney made nine starts for the Rapids in 2007, his lone season with the club after being acquired via trade from FC Dallas. Fraser and Vanney were teammates during their time at the Galaxy and later served as head coach and assistant coach, respectively, of Chivas USA between 2011-12. Fraser would later serve as Vanney’s assistant coach while the pair were part of Toronto FC’s technical staff between 2015 and 2019. Jovan Kirovski, the Galaxy’s technical director, was a member of the Rapids from 2005 to 2008, scoring 12 goals and delivering four assists over 61 regular-season appearances. Jason Bent, LA Galaxy assistant coach, made 51 appearances, scored two goals and delivered four assists for the Rapids from 1998 to 2000. Cesar Roldan, LA Galaxy head athletic trainer, served as the head athletic trainer for the Rapids from 2016 to 18.
Saturday’s trip to LA presents a can’t-lose scenario for the Rapids if they are to reach the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoffs. If Colorado loses the game and both 1) Real Salt Lake wins against FC Cincinnati and 2) Portland Timbers FC pick up points against Columbus Crew in their respective weekend matches, then the Rapids would be officially eliminated from playoff contention.