After the slog-fest that was seven-game July, the Colorado Rapids went into August needing a handful of points to get themselves not just into the playoff discussion but firmly entrenched into it. Fortunately for Colorado, August was a kind month with 7/12 possible league points gained along with 4/6 possible points from their first two CONCACAF Champions League games.
Since July 16th when they lost to the Sounders, Colorado has been on quite a bit of a tear. Up until their last game in Chicago on August 27th, they had not taken a loss in a game in that stretch and only drew twice in league play. September looks like it's going to be a bit harder on the Rapids with some tough league matches and their first match against Mexican side Santos Laguna. Here's your monthly preview and score predictions after the jump.September 9th @ Los Angeles Galaxy - This one has the potential to be very hard on the Rapids. Although the Rapids have been surprisingly good at Home Depot Center the last few years - winning both of their last games against Chivas USA in the stadium as well as shocking the Galaxy late last season 3-1 - the team that will be going into LA this year will not be a full strength Rapids and will be missing their best player coming off a 2-0 loss to the better than advertised but still bottom feeding Chicago Fire. Drew Moor will miss his first ever game for Colorado since becoming a Rapid, which will leave the defense vulnerable with Scott Palguta likely taking his spot. At least the offense will be well rested.
UZ'S PREDICTION - 2-1 Galaxy
September 13th vs. Santos Laguna - The most anticipated match on the CCL docket for the Rapids, as they take on Mexican side Santos Laguna. This is right on the heels of Santos possibly hiring former US coach Bob Bradley so this one will be especially juicy for the gang of US Men's National Team fans that will be in the supporters section. Santos are slightly weakened after selling their best striker in the off-season as well as taking the CCL matches thus far less than seriously as they have lost to Isidro Metapan and just barely defeated Real Espana in their games so far.
With the Rapids at home with a weakened side against a Santos B-side it's going to be hard to figure this one out, but the Rapids will likely be looking to win as they said they would with all their home matches. Expect something similar to the Real Espana line-up, with a good offense and midfield paired with a weakened group in the defense, where the Rapids depth is lacking the most. On that note, I could very easily see this being a disappointing draw that would still keep the Rapids top of the group.
UZ'S PREDICTION - 1-1 Draw
September 17th @ Toronto FC - The always fun statistic of the Rapids never winning at BMO Field is certain to come up a few times between now and this game. Unfortunately, the bottom feeding Reds always seem to be able to pull wins out of nowhere at home against the Rapids and this season's model of TFC being not all that good probably won't change things. If anything, this one will probably come down to the lineup that the Rapids are going to put out onto the field. With no Dwayne De Rosario anymore the Reds will surely be the less talented side but it's going to come down to finishing - it always seems to in Toronto - but a draw will probably be the best case scenario because the old Chicago curse just seems to travel up to Canada with us.
UZ'S PREDICTION - 2-2 Draw
September 21st vs. Real Espana - This should be an easy win in theory. We saw that the Rapids were clearly the more physical and overall talented of the two sides when these two teams played in Honduras, though they were only able to salvage a draw while playing the most back-ass style of bunker ball I've ever seen from Colorado. With the Rapids coming back on the attack, this game really should be a Rapids victory. After all, even WITH the Rapids playing terrible possession-less football in Honduras, Espana still needed a goal at the very death in order to snag the draw out.
UZ'S PREDICTION - 3-1 Rapids
September 24th vs. San Jose Earthquakes - The Rapids pulled out a victory over the Earthquakes last time these two teams played, though that victory was more due to the referees going for the lulz than an actual win based on talent. At altitude the Rapids rarely lose to the Earthquakes, and the Quakes seem to be playing out the stretch at this point, unable to buy a win for themselves recently. Though that will likely change by the time the 24th has rolled around, the Rapids should still have the advantage here.
UZ'S PREDICTION - 2-0 Rapids
September 28th @ Isidro Metapan - The Rapids always seem to do well around my birthday so I guess that's probably the best hope I can have for this game. Even Santos Laguna - B team though they may have been playing - lost when they went to El Salvador to play Metapan so the Rapids B team will probably be playing the same level of hoof-ball we saw in Honduras and we might not see results quite as good. Then again, this could easily be a game where the reserve team steps it up and wins 2-0, but you really never know.
UZ'S PREDICTION - 1-1 Draw