The Colorado Rapids and Minnesota United will meet on July 22 for the final group stage match, with both teams battling for a result to qualify for the knockout round.
In order for the Rapids to advance to the round of 16, they will need to beat Minnesota United, as well as Real Salt Lake to play against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. They will also need to surpass Kansas City in the standings through the first tiebreaker, which is goal differential. Currently at 0 points and -3 in goal differential, the Rapids will need a big win with at least a three goal margin, while Real Salt Lake wins against Kansas City by a two-goal margin.
Colorado had a good start and took an early lead against the Sporting. However, they could not hold on after receiving two red cards that brought the squad down to nine players in the second half. Jonathon Lewis equalized, and the deflection from Graham Zusi sealed the win for Kansas City. The Rapids will have a big disadvantage as they will be missing their captain Jack Price, as well as defender Danny Wilson after the pair of red cards on Friday.
Unlike the Rapids who are struggling, Minnesota United remains undefeated after their draw against Real Salt Lake. Minnesota stands atop of the table and is tied with Real Salt Lake with four points each. The United average 2 points per game and are on a clear path to the knockout round of the tournament.
Although they do not have Ike Opara, they welcomed back captain Osvaldo Alonso and forward Luis Amarilla. Mason Toye is also participating in training after his hip injury and plans on playing on Wednesday.
The win on Wednesday night will give them seven points over three games and 13 points over the first five games of the MLS regular season. They currently lead the Western Conference with 10 points and will try to get the win, as every point matters.
Coach Adrian Heath said that he does not underestimate the Rapids, despite them being 0-2 since the return.
He continued, saying that “They’re coming into the game full of confidence. I know from our results in games against them in the past, it is going to be another tight affair. We expect a difficult game, I really do.”
Adrian Heath praised his team’s defense. Despite the heat and tough environment in Orlando, Minnesota’s defense managed to overcome the difficulties and displayed great effort. They only conceded one goal since the return and have done that without their leader and center back Ike Opara. Players complimented their teammate Jose Aja for taking over the spot and helping the team win.
Colorado’s New Leader
The Rapid’s new goalkeeper William Yarbrough has adapted to the team and enjoys playing with his teammates. He established himself as a leader by integrating himself with the team, doing everything he can to help them, and making sure that he is familiar with every single aspect of the team. He believes that they are mentally ready for the match against Minnesota United and are ready to go to the knockout stage.
Minnesota United will win the match and stay atop of the table in Group D. The Colorado Rapids have a big disadvantage in their roster, with Jack Price and Danny Wilson sitting out due to a pair of red cards. Also, Minnesota has a strong defense that won’t allow them to concede many goals.
The Colorado Rapids have won three of the last five match-ups against Minnesota United, but the Rapids have not been themselves since the return of MLS and need to get back on track.