It’s been a tough run for the Colorado Rapids. The Burgundy Boys haven’t earned a single point since beating Toronto FC on April 14th, and while no one is pretending that a 7-game losing streak isn’t a concern, Anthony Hudson and the Rapids are looking forward to getting back on track with an Open Cup win over Nashville SC this evening.
“It’s a good break from the league,” Hudson said after practice on Monday. “It’s an opportunity get back on track, and we’re taking it 100% seriously. Attitude is everything for us and we will be going there prepared and looking to win the game.”
Historically, the Rapids haven’t done very well in the Open Cup. Since losing in the 1999 Final to the Rochester Raging Rhinos of the A-League, Colorado has gone 14 straight tournaments without multiple wins. They have been eliminated six times by lower division squads and having a losing record against Division 2 teams (6-7-0). In the last three years, the Rapids have beaten their USL opponents, then lost each year to an MLS team in the next round (Houston Dynamo in 2015 and FC Dallas in 2016 and 2017).
The argument has always been—or at least recently—that the club doesn’t take the Open Cup seriously. This year, that’s going to change.
“It’s a great opportunity for everyone who’s gonna step on the field,” said Dillon Serna. “We’re going to take it seriously, and we want to win something.”
Last Saturday, the Rapids had an “in-house game” for some of the players to get some minutes and earn their spot tonight. Marlon Hairston played in that game. “He got through it very well,” Hudson said of the right wingback. “Marlon’s in a position now where he’s available to either start or come off the bench, but he’s going to feature.”
Unfortunately, the Rapids still won’t have the entire squad healthy and available for the match-up. Axel Sjoberg is under concussion protocol, Danny Wilson has a slight groin injury, and Johan Blomberg is just coming back so they’re monitoring his minutes, but Hudson is optimistic. “With the squads we have available to us, we want to go there and get a result.”
Part of getting a result tonight is finding the balance between regular starters, players who don’t get many minutes, and being mindful of the upcoming schedule. “We want to go strong with the lineup and also give one or two an opportunity,” Hudson explained. “It is about getting the balance right, but we want to go strong—no questions about that.”
Both Colorado and Nashville are expected to come out strong, and fans are excited to see former Rapids head coach Gary Smith, as well as former players Matt Pickens and Kosuke Kimura. Conor Casey is the only one left around here that played with the 2010 MLS Cup team, and while he’s looking forward to seeing the guys, “for us it’s a big game. We’re going there to win and that’s the job.”
The game is on Wednesday, June 6 at 6:30 pm MT at Vanderbilt Football Stadium in Nashville. There should be a stream available here on gameday, and Connor Cape and Richard Fleming are in Nashville to cover the game for Altitude950.