COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - Colorado Rapids 2 will face off against Earthquakes II at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on Sunday, October 8, for the team’s first match of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs (7:30 p.m. MT; MLS Season Pass on Apple TV).
Rapids 2 is preparing to take on its first-ever playoff match on Sunday night after selecting Earthquakes II as its Conference Semifinals opponent. As the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, Colorado earned the right to participate in the new pick-your-opponent process established by the league, on top of earning a first-round bye in this year’s playoffs. Following a win in the Conference Quarterfinals, Earthquakes II was the lowest remaining seed (No. 6) in the Western Conference, qualifying for the semifinals alongside Austin FC II and Tacoma Defiance. The winners of each semifinals match will face off in the Western Conference Finals, which will take place at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park should Colorado secure three points against Earthquakes II in this weekend’s match.
Colorado’s last match of the regular season saw the team capture three points in a 4-2 win over MNUFC2. Forward Rémi Cabral was the star of the show, scoring a hat trick to bring his season total to 19 goals to earn himself a share of this year’s Golden Boot award. His performances up top also awarded him a spot on the MLS NEXT Pro Best XI list alongside fellow teammates Yosuke Hanya and Oliver Larraz. In addition to spot on the Best XI, Larraz ended the year as the leader in key passes with 55 total this season. Midfielder Marlon Vargas also made a splash on the league’s statistics, ending the season as the league’s assist leader with 10 in total.
The win over MNUFC2 also secured Rapids 2 a No. 1 overall seed in the league, making head coach Erik Bushey’s side the team to watch during the 2023 playoffs. Rapids 2 ended the year as the leader in goals (70 goals) and assists (51 assists), doubling their offensive statistics from the 2022 season. Coach Bushey’s leadership was recognized by the league through this season’s Coach of the Year award, which was voted on by the head coaches and chief soccer officers at MLS NEXT Pro Clubs, as well as League broadcast and content teams.
Sunday’s match will mark the third meeting between Colorado and San Jose this season. The first time these two sides faced off in San Jose, Rapids 2 recorded its first clean sheet of the season in a 2-0 win. Forward Pariss Mitchell opened the team’s account with his first-ever professional goal while Hanya gave the team its second in stoppage time. The second match between the Western Conference sides saw regulation end in a 2-2 draw after midfielder Daouda Amadou found a stoppage time equalizer to force a shootout. Colorado ultimately took home the extra point during a 4-2 shootout win.
Earthquakes II will travel to Colorado off the heels of an upset over St. Louis CITY2 in the Conference Quarterfinals. The 2-0 win over St. Louis marked San Jose’s first-ever playoff win, having not qualified for a spot in the 2022 MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. The victory notably marked the team’s ninth clean sheet of the season and saw Ousseni Bouda and Will Richmond net the two lone goals of the night for Earthquakes II. As a team with one of the best road records in the league (8-4-2), San Jose will be looking to grab one more road win in its search for a spot in the Conference Finals.
To purchase tickets to the Rapids 2 Conference Semifinals match on Sunday, October 8, click here.