Rapids 2 (1-3-1, 5 pts) will catch a flight to California this weekend to face off against Earthquakes II (2-3-1, 7 pts) on Sunday, May 15 in the team’s fourth road match of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season. Kickoff at PayPal Park is set for 8:30 p.m. MT and the match will be broadcast on www.mlsnextpro.com.
“I think coming off the heels of a very difficult game in Houston, we are anxious to put forth the lessons that we have been learning,” said Rapids 2 head coach Erik Bushey. “I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the game in Houston, which was a very difficult game. It was a different team for us to put on the field, so within that we gained a lot of very valuable experience and I think we will be better for it coming into this weekend. So, the chance to put that on the field and apply those lessons is motivation in and of itself. Getting another win in the win column is another motivation. Playing against another quality opponent in a quality venue is the same. So, plenty of motivation for us to look forward to.”
Rapids 2 took the field last weekend in slightly different form than usual with first team loans Darren Yapi, Anthony Markanich and Sebastian Anderson all on the road with the Rapids first team in San Jose. With a few key players absent from Sunday’s starting 11, Rapids 2 defender Steve Flores, midfielder Andres Torres and forward Vlad Walent were asked to step up against an attack-heavy Dynamo 2. The match, which saw the team record a 2-0 loss, was some of the best technical work the team has put forth all season. Colorado managed to maintain nearly 50% of possession while putting up a valiant effort in the attacking third with nine shots, two of which were on goal.
“Yeah, we are still dealing with change and player fluidity and the movement in and out. For me, that was an exceptional positive from last week. We had young players come in and have to earn some stripes if you will and for the most part passed the test. That will be the same this weekend. There will be no surprise, we will be a young team but the expectation will be greater than last week because they have some very valuable minutes under their belt,” said Bushey.
A new addition to the Rapids 2 roster, defender Blake Malone logged his first minutes with the Colorado team in the showdown against Dynamo 2. The 21-year-old centerback recorded 13 minutes and is expected to add some additional minutes to his stat line in this weekend’s match versus Earthquakes II.
“I know how high level of an organization the Rapids are and how truly professional they are. I know that for my development personally, it was the right step for me,” said Rapids 2 defender Blake Malone. “Just in the short time that I have been here, I can already tell that it is going to do me wonders and hopefully I can add to this group and make the organization better as a whole and to do what I can as my part. I know just in this short week that they have done so much for me, so I can tell that it is such a professional environment. So, I am glad to be here.”
The home side of Earthquakes II will host Rapids 2 this Sunday following a 3-0 win against Timbers2, which saw San Jose goalkeeper Emmanuel Ochoa record his second shutout of the season against Portland. As it stands, San Jose sits two points ahead of Colorado in the league standings with six games under their belt while the Rapids have only played five games this season. Sunday’s match will see the two sides go head to head for the first time as the team's search to establish winning records heading into the remainder of the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season.
To view the full Rapids 2 schedule for the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro season, click here.