STATEMENT OF INTENT
The Rapids have now won three straight matches against the Galaxy in LA but the difference on Tuesday night was that the league was watching. With only one other match on the docket, the rest of MLS was off, including writers, players, coaches and staff. Head coach Robin Fraser and the players would never tell anyone that these three points served as a bit of a warning shot across MLS, so we’ll do it here. The rest of MLS is officially on notice.
“Honestly, we’re just trying to do our thing and to be efficient in how we play and limit teams’ opportunities and create chances.,” Fraser said postgame. “In terms of it being a statement to the rest of the league, I don’t even know if that’s worthwhile commenting on because there are a lot of teams who are good teams, there’s a lot of season left and we just have to keep playing well and doing our thing.”
With the All-Star game kicking off in Southern California next Wednesday, the Rapids have a chance to enter next week with at eleven wins from nineteen matches. They are currently one of five teams with double digit wins and they are one of four teams who have atleast five road wins. To not have a player participating in the All-Star festivities in some way is a miss. That type of snub will only continue to fuel this side in the second half of the season.
STOP THE COUNT
At the halfway-ish mark, the MLS Coach of the Year resides in Colorado. All due respect to Bruce Arena and Brian Schmetzer, who have been great, but Robin Fraser has his team achieving at a level few outside of Colorado expected when the 2021 season began. Seattle and New England were picked to win trophies and were on the radar across MLS to begin the campaign.
Fraser is winning by shifting players and formations to suit his team. He’s doing it with a Designated Player on the injured list and a top midfielder missing nearly half of the season due to international duty. He’s winning on the road and he’s getting the most out of every player on his roster.
One moment from Tuesday night that exemplifies Fraser’s confidence as a coach and belief in his team was born out with the game still in the balance at 1-1 in the 60th minute. Many coaches would play for a draw, bunker down for the final 20 minutes, talk about how hard the team fought to secure a road point. Not Fraser. He brought on three attacking players - Diego Rubio, Andre Shinyashiki & Michael Barrios - and went all-out for three points. On the road, against his close friend, Galaxy head coach Greg Vanney.
When asked about his decision, Fraser had this to say - "those guys are incredibly intelligent players and extremely hard workers. It allowed us to sustain the pressure we had for the early part of the half. They came in and did a really good job and made thing difficult for the Galaxy. They were able to be an influence defensively as well as offensively."
UNSUNG HEROES OF THE NIGHT
Every night another player seems to step up. Here’s a few that had big performances against LA.
Collen Warner was excellent in midfield. He won the majority of his battles and even created a few dangerous chances offensively.
William Yarbrough came up with big saves when he needed to. He made five in all and the Rapids have conceded only 18 goals this season. His best of the night was a point-blank stop in the 50th minute on a Derrick Williams’ header. Like many of his teammates, he’s been one of the most underrated players at his position in the entire league.
Braian Galvan shined at left wingback. He was dangerous going forward and was dominant against Julian Araujo.