Three Keys to the Game: Colorado Rapids vs. DC United

WASHINGTON - MAY 5: Wells Thompson #15 of the Colorado Rapids controls the ball against Jordan Graye #16 of D.C. United at RFK Stadium on May 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

It's going to be an interesting game today, to say the very least. Not only do DC United have last year's win in Colorado - only one of two losses that the Rapids suffered at home last year! - on their resume to build upon from last year, but they have also looked like a brand new squad with Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff running their offense instead of Danny Allsopp and... uh, yeah. It will be a tougher game than expected for the Rapids, as they face probably their hardest test so far in the season after facing the inept Portland Timbers and the impotent Chivas USA to go to a quick 2-0 on the season. 

Attack Hard - DC United are NOT the same DC United we saw last year. I don't care if Danny Earls and Scott Palguta were starting in the back four - that's more like a back two, actually - but DC United was impotent last year on offense, and that's being kind to them! When your top scorer is a rookie - and a rookie who scores fewer than 10 goals even! - you know you're not in good shape. Colorado is going to have to go on the offensive against this DC United team who has the top scorer in MLS with Charlie Davies. Supposedly they're going to have their top squad out including Omar Cummings and Conor Casey, so it should be a bit easier for the Rapids to do this, but no matter who is starting they have to assume from the beginning that they are going to be an offensive team and score as many goals as they can. You know that with Davies on the field, United is going to come fast and strong at the Rapids defense. There's a reason that Davies is a national team player, after all. He's one of my favorites, in fact, and when they play tomorrow I predict he will have the goal for DC United in a 2-1 Rapids win.

Play the Rapids Game to Perfection - It's not hard to understand this one. The Rapids played compact and passed short and well against Portland and Chivas, which equaled easy wins against weaker squads. I would hesitate to call DC United a weaker squad after their impressive first couple of games but they should still be a win for the defending champions... if they can repeat their success from the last two weeks. Playing a strong midfield that steals the ball away and at the same time can make beautiful through passes to the strikers won the Rapids the championship last year, and it has worked so far this year. As long as DC United doesn't break the Rapids usual strict formation the Rapids should be able to do what they always do; pull out an easy win against a lesser team.

Health - Obviously this could be one every week, but when I found out that Conor Casey wasn't starting last week I was a bit frightened. Sure, this team might be deep at striker but at every other position they might have a problem if their first starter comes out. Wells Thompson is an all right midfielder but Jamie Smith has proven to be better, especially this year. The defensive backups are not that great with Tyrone Marshall and Danny Earls being the best options of the bench for them. I won't go so far to say those are bad options but Danny Earls is always a wild card with his confidence problems; his talent might be there, but I won't say he should be a starter with Anthony Wallace ahead of him. The Rapids have to keep from having injury problems against DC. After all, it was really the second team that had the problems last year and lost to DC United 1-0.

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