Our I-70 rivals are in town for the first time in 2019.
Yep, it’s that time of year again. That time when Sporting Kansas City comes to town for our unofficial official rivalry series. We’ve had some great games against them, but last year we started with a 2-2 tie and then went on the road and lost 1-0. Since then, we’ve overhauled our roster with plenty of ex-SKC players and are looking at making 2019 a season to remember.
So how are the visitors looking as they make the long trip out west along what is currently an icy highway?
Kansas City has had a fairly middle-of-the-road offseason, with a few big players in and a few big players out. The biggest trade for them that Colorado fans would be familiar with is the three-part move that brought forward Diego Rubio, who used to be one of SKC’s Young Designated Players, to the Rapids. Colorado sent Edgar Castillo to the New England Revolution to get Kelyn Rowe and then traded Rowe to SKC for Rubio.
In another high-profile trade, Sporting also sold Ike Opara to Minnesota United. Opara was named the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year and was on the MLS Best XI that year as well. Their most recent addition is Gedion Zelalem, a midfielder who was with Arsenal’s youth squads. He is a midfielder who has made appearances for both Germany and the US’s youth national teams. However, he only recently was announced, so he may not be game-ready just yet.
The biggest advantage that the Rapids will have in this game is the fact that SKC have been far busier than most other MLS teams. They’ve been competing in the CONCACAF Champion’s League and will have a mid-week game on Thursday against the Panamanian club, Independiente La Chorrera (CAI). They lost out on the road 2-1, but a successful home game would put them through to the next round of CCL. If this happens, they’ll be back to playing more mid-week games as they hope to be the first U.S. team to win the CCL. After this week’s games, we’ve seen Houston, NYRB, and Atlanta all flame out in pretty spectacular fashion, and sadly I’m expecting to see Kansas City fail to make it to the next round.
In terms of their MLS season so far, it’s been fairly mixed. They lost on the road to LAFC 2-1, but rebounded at home with a 2-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union. Given the fact that they’ve been playing both MLS and CCL matches, there is probably going to be a good amount of rotation around their roster to make sure they are ready for each upcoming match as they come.
They tend to line up in a 4-3-3 formation, but who will actually be playing may be determined by the lineup they bring out against CAI. Peter Vermes likes to push his players, so just because a player started against Independiente, don’t count them out against the Rapids.
The key to this match will be making sure our back line doesn’t repeat the same mistakes that happened against Seattle. Yes, a lot of this has to do with our starting centerbacks being either injured or suspended, but that excuse can only last so long. If we continue to play traffic cone=style defense, we’re not going to walk away with 3 points.
But if our midfield and offense can click, this should be a very entertaining game. I’m sure that Diego Rubio, Kei Kamara, and Benny Feilhaber are all looking forward to playing their old club, and I’d be surprised if we didn’t drop at least one or two goals on them.