The past couple of games, I've had the pleasure of being able to conduct some Q&A's and interviews with bloggers from our other MLS sites, namely Denz of RSL Soapbox, Scott K. of Brotherly Game and Martin Shatzer from Black and Red United. It was great fun to do all of those, but unfortunately SBnation has yet to find an FC Dallas blogger, so we can't do one of those this time around. Instead, I'll do basically a "3 questions" with myself... except the three questions will all be "what's a key to this game?"
Yeah, not clever at all, I know. Either way, three big deciding factors in this game for the Colorado Rapids after the jump.
* Gary Smith's Line-up - Colorado isn't Real Salt Lake or the LA Galaxy. The depth on this team is questionable at best. Gary Smith made a huge mistake against DC United in playing three - or four, depending on how you view Wells Thompson - back up players in the line up, especially in the back four. Danny Earls and Scott Palguta both played brutally bad just about the entire game, Conor Casey wasn't as effective with Kandji by his side as he usually is with Cummings and Wells Thompson - while not awful - wasn't playing up to his usual standards. Gary Smith can't afford to pull any of his big guns even if he thinks they need a rest in the next few games otherwise he may face a really long rest during the offseason. On that same note, if Julien Baudet says he's not 100%, don't play him. The usual back four of Wallace-Moor-Wynne-Kimura has worked like a charm since being implemented for the first time and I wouldn't tinker with success. Same with Casey-Cummings, regardless of Kandji's impressive form since joining Colorado.
* The Wingers - If there has been a place this season that the Rapids have been weak, it's been at the outside midfield positions. Colin Clark spent most of the season injured or recovering and was eventually traded to Houston. His replacement Brian Mullan has had a good start with the Rapids but can't seem to play more than 60 minutes a game. He also had a stinker last time out against DC. Jamie Smith and Wells Thompson have both had their moments, but not enough by either to justify being the #1 man on the outside. Jamie in particular can be a complete monster and one of the top players on the team one day and then have an awful game the next. Mehdi Ballouchy was Mehdi-orce all year long before getting traded for Mac Kanji. Ross LaBeaux isn't very good at anything yet. Most importantly, both outside midfielders -whoever they may be - never seem to click in the same game. The Rapids will need some stability from Mullan and whoever else is starting outside today if they hope to win or even get a hard fought draw.
* Not Losing Sight of what's Next - Colorado will certainly go into this game knowing that a win and they're basically in. Seattle has played some fantastic football lately and if they can beat or draw with KC combined with a Colorado win, the Rapids are in. They played lazily and without drive - minus Matt Pickens - in the game against DC and they can't have another lazy minute this season, regardless of the line-up being played.