After Nashville snapped the Rapids’ home unbeaten streak in May, the Burgundy Boys are ready to repay the favor with a victory at GEODIS Park.
The two sides’ first meeting saw three goals within the first 21 minutes, including a brace from Designated Player Hany Mukhtar. The German found the back of the net in the 15th and 17th minute, and has since scored 11 goals for the Music City team.
Diego Rubio was able to pull one back for the Rapids in the 77th minute off of a curling upper-90 free kick, but the loss meant Colorado would enter the June international break on a low note.
That meeting, combined with the Rapids’ recent loss to Philadelphia Union on Saturday night, are fuel for redemption in Nashville.
“I think we all know who their best players are, what the danger is coming from them,” said Rubio. "We need to be very dangerous in attack so they can be worried about us and not our entire team being worried about them. We need to win every duel, they're very good attacking, so I think that's the most important –– don't let them turn and any chance that we have, I hope we can score.”
Mistakes were made in May, and the Rapids know they have what it takes to correct them in this second meeting.
“I think they have some very good players and if you give them opportunities they can hurt you. So we really need to be sharp, not give away opportunities, make them earn anything they get,” said head coach Robin Fraser.
“It’s just a matter of focus and concentration, and we know how we can hurt them. But we also know that if we aren't sharp in the back, then they can hurt us.”
Wednesday’s matchup will be the first time Colorado sees GEODIS Park. The rowdy atmosphere supplied by Nashville’s fans can give the Rapids the edge they need to amp up the play and take home three points.
“I mean, imagine winning in front of 25,000 or 30,000 fans, so I hope we can do our best, we can enjoy playing in this new stadium and of course, respect the rival and that they're a very good team, but we need to play our game," said Rubio. “I love big crowds, it motivates me. I hope it motivates the whole team.”
Players like Sam Nicholson also have the opportunity to make a good first impression in front of Gary Smith’s side. Nicholson, Felipe Gutiérrez, and Ralph Priso hadn’t yet joined the Rapids’ squad for their first matchup with Nashville.
Despite knowing the short but bitter history with the Western Conference foe, they’re approaching the game like any other: one with important points on the line.
“I think because of the game [against Philadelphia] we need to go into this game with all guns blazing and go for the win,” said Nicholson. “We've all discussed that when we're on our game, we're more than capable of beating anyone, but we need to sort of approach the game in the right manner. From training this morning, we're all in the right mindset of trying to turn around what happened the other night.”
The chip on Colorado’s shoulder is bigger than ever this season. Wednesday night is the time to show the Western Conference that the Rapids cannot and will not be counted out of a playoff race.
“What we need to see is resiliency after the weekend, that we come back with a proper fighting spirit, and the only way we get into the playoffs is if everyone's dialed in and everyone's engaged and then everyone plays hard,” said Fraser.