New York Red Bulls vs Colorado Rapids
MLS Regular Season, Week 26
August 31, 2019 - 7:00 PM
Red Bull Arena - Harrison, New Jersey
New man in charge...
The Colorado Rapids (7-14-6, 11th in MLS Western Conference) will travel to Red Bull Arena to kick off newly-named head coach Robin Fraser’s campaign with the club. Though a matchup with last season’s Supporters’ Shield winners and a squad that’s currently ranked fourth in the MLS Eastern Conference should make for a not-so-welcome party, expect the Rapids to come out with an extra bit of fire for their new coach’s first sideline stint in burgundy.
The Jamaican-born 52-year-old Fraser is no stranger to Colorado soccer. He played five seasons (1990-1995) with the Colorado Foxes of the now-defunct American Professional Soccer League. After a stint with the LA Galaxy, Fraser was back in Colorado with the Rapids from 2001-2003, amassing 74 caps for the club. He spoke to his everlasting bond with this community in his introductory press conference on Tuesday, saying, “every time I leave, I always feel that Denver’s home.”
Perhaps equally as impressive is what Fraser accomplished in his work on the bench. In addition to serving as the now-defunct Chivas USA head coach, Fraser has found success as an assistant coach across MLS. With Toronto FC for the previous four and a half seasons, Fraser helped the club reach two MLS Cup finals (winning in 2017) in addition to winning three consecutive Canadian Championships. Prior to that, Fraser spent time as an assistant for both Real Salt Lake and NY Red Bulls.
The main challenge ahead of Fraser will be in finding the balance of maintaining the consistently dangerous level of offense that the Rapids enjoyed in interim head coach Conor Casey’s spell in charge while also looking to shore up a defensive side of the ball. The five-time MLS All-Star defender was blunt in his assessment of his preferred style of play. “Everyone says they want to play an attractive offensive style. There has to be a foundation behind it and there has to be a lot of purpose. If you can’t stop teams it doesn’t matter how good of an attacking team you are,” Fraser said Tuesday. And against a Red Bulls team that is third in goals scored in MLS on the year, the Rapids will need to get on their new coach’s wavelength sooner rather than later.
He's coming home...
Though goalkeeper Tim Howard has been taking his farewell season and each match in stride, you have to imagine that the USMNT legend will have had this one circled on his calendar for weeks. Howard began his storybook career in MLS with the New York Red Bulls, then called the MetroStars, over twenty years ago as a bright-eyed nineteen-year-old. It’s only fitting that the now-forty-year-old legend’s debut for the club came against the Colorado Rapids on August 18, 1998.
Howard would soon make a name for himself with the MetroStars. After spending the 2000 season splitting time between his club and the US Olympics team, the New Jersey native’s career exploded. In 2001, Howard recorded 146 saves and four shutouts and was awarded MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors.
After the 2002 season, he was named to his second consecutive MLS Best XI team. Howard’s time with the club would come to an end the following season when Manchester United paid for the goalkeeper’s services.
As Howard makes his final trip back to the Meadowlands, re-live that exciting affair that got it all started back in 1998 below:
What to watch for...
Connor Cape, Radio Play-by-Play Announcer