Colorado Rapids vs Los Angeles Football Club
MLS Regular Season, Week 17
June 28, 2019 - 8:00 PM
DICK'S Sporting Goods Park - Commerce City, Colorado
Two of the league’s hottest go head to head
The Rapids extended their unbeaten run in league play to six games (4-0-2) after a 2-2 draw in Vancouver against Vancouver on June 22. Bright spots during this six-game stretch have included forward Andre Shinyashiki, who netted the fourth goal of his impressive rookie season at BC Place, and defender Lalas Abubakar, who has been a rock across the backline since his arrival in May and was named to the MLS Team of the Week for Week 16.
The 14 points over the last six games have sparked a new sense of confidence in the side and the the field the Western Conference has tightened and as a result he Rapids sit just four points below the playoff line. In fact, this run of form is tied for best across all of MLS over this stretch. Tied with whom you ask? None other than this Friday’s opponent, LAFC.
Coming off an impressive inaugural season in 2018 that saw the Black & Gold make the MLS playoffs, LAFC have taken their game to the next level this year. The club leads the Western Conference and are five points clear of second place in the Supporters' Shield race.
Despite LAFC’s talent across the pitch, there’s no question that the star of the show is forward Carlos Vela. The former Arsenal and Real Sociedad forward requested not to participate with the Mexican national team at the 2019 Gold Cup in order to focus on his club team, and it’s a decision that few could criticize given both his personal and the team’s level of success so far this season. Undeniably, Vela is the front-runner for MLS MVP, with his 16 goals through 16 games putting him on pace to break the MLS single-season record of 31 set by Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez last year.
The student and the teacher
The stakes of Friday's game will be a little bit higher for Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey as he faces LAFC head coach Bob Bradley. The two have a relationship that dates Casey's playing days and in the late 2000s Casey played under Bradley, then the coach of the United States Men’s National Team.
"I had the privilege to play for him with the national team a few times. He’s a professional. Every day he demands the best from his players and he gets the most out of them,” said Casey in his praise of his former coach on Wednesday.
What to watch for...
Connor Cape, Radio Play-by-Play Announcer
Six games unbeaten for the Rapids and what was once cautious optimism has become outright confidence. Confidence that this team can get a result against any team in any venue. And the Burgundy Boys will need that confidence on Friday night against LAFC.
The Black and Gold are top of the league and still chasing a domestic treble. They’re undoubtedly the best side in league play but they’re not invincible. The formula will be the same for Colorado: stay compact and keep defensive shape, utilize speed on the counter and take advantage of set pieces.