(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Colorado Rapids have had a rough stretch recently in MLS league action and in the CONCACAF Champions League. The last league victory for the club came on August 13, which was a 2-1 road victory over the San Jose Earthquakes. Colorado followed with a 3-2 victory in their opener in the CCL against Isidro Metapán just four days later. However, the past four weeks have been harsh and no less than a victory at Dick's Sporting Goods Park against Real España could be devastating in Colorado's quest to reach the CCL Quarterfinals.
Colorado are 1-1-1 in the competition so far, but this match will be the final home fixture in the group stage. This means two tricky away contests in El Salvador and Mexico remain on the horizon, with only the top two teams form the Group advancing to the Quarterfinals. Real España have lost twice in the campaign and claimed a home point against Colorado in a 1-1 draw where Gary Smith started many reserves.
Unfortunately for the Rapids, Anthony Wallace will not feature for the rest of the season as the young defender underwent knee surgery. Wallace was influential in Colorado's run to MLS Cup last season and has suffered from knee issues for the majority of the 2011 campaign. Miguel Comminges should start in defense. Look to see Drew Moor and Marvel Wynne paired in central defense. Kosuke Kimura will possibly start, and it is possible that Matt Pickens will return in goal.
Colorado has had goal-scoring issues recently as the majority of the teams forwards are not currently in-form. Sanna Nyassi did score against Toronto FC on the weekend, but Omar Cummings has recently struggled in front of goal. Gary Smith has preferred the pairing of Omar Cummings and Sanna Nyassi and both players need to be creative against Real España's defense.
With a win, Colorado would put themselves right back in the mix for a spot in the CCL Quarterfinals. A loss would all but finish Real España's slim hopes of advancing. Isidro Metapán will travel to Torreon, Mexico, to face Santos Laguna. Earlier in the campaign, Metapán shocked Santos Laguna in El Salvador with a 2-1 win. Gary Smith wanted nine points from the club's three Champions League home fixtures. He would definitely be content with six points, should Colorado claim all three points at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday night.