Robin Fraser’s run with the Colorado Rapids is off to a great start. Two consecutive 2-0 wins—one on the road and one at home—multiple players on the MLS Team of the Week and our beloved Andre Shinyashiki and his perplexingly dyed hair was named the MLS Player of the Week. As the Rapids look to the third game of Fraser’s tenure, how does the incoming LA Galaxy look?
Quite frankly, LA is in a tight spot right now. They are narrowly missing out on the playoffs, currently occupying the eighth spot in the Western Conference with just a single point separating them from being above the red line. They are desperate to get above the line. If they don’t make it, this will be the third year in a row they’ve missed the playoffs, and the second with soccer superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Needless to say, the Galaxy will be playing a serious game.
Earlier in the season when we previously played LA, entering the game we were at our lowest of low points. We had played 11 games, with two ties and nine losses. A dismal run of form under Anthony Hudson put us on track to have one of the worst defenses in MLS history. We were looking like a minor-league caliber team playing way above our skill level. Once Hudson got the boot and Conor Casey took over, things looked better. We walked into the Galaxy’s home turf and got away with our first three points thanks to a crucial goal by Shinyashiki late in the game. From there, the Rapids started turning things around, getting a series of big wins and going on a rather excellent tear.
Colorado may be playing completely different from where we were months ago, but the Galaxy haven’t changed much. Chief among their changes are the introduction of Cristian Pavon, the young Argentinian on loan from Boca Juniors. The striker just joined the squad during the summer transfer window and has started all four matches so far.
The Galaxy are pretty set on their 4-2-3-1 formation, but are without five players due to international call-ups: Jonathan dos Santos and Uriel Antuna (Mexico), Sebastian Lletget (US), Giancarlo Gonzales (Costa Rica), and Rolf Feltscher (Venezuela). Not a crippling loss of players like the Seattle Sounders had to deal with, but will certainly have an impact. Interestingly, Antuna, Lletget, Gonzales and Fletscher all play on the right side of the field. Maybe we should be expecting to see Jonathan Lewis making mincemeat of that side, as we saw against NYRB?
Their DP Romain Alessandrini was seen at training, but I wouldn’t count on him making the trip out for a midweek game. Meaning, they are all going to be relying once again on their big gun, Zlatan, as he makes his first appearance in Colorado. Shockingly, though, I think it is totally possible that the Rapids can shut him down. Remember a few weeks ago when we played LAFC at home? Our young homegrown left back, Sam Vines, completely shut down Carlos Vela, the league’s top point machine. We kept the best offense in the league to a shutout. If we play smart, which I think we can do, we should be able to keep him off the scoreboard. When Zlatan isn’t on the scoreboard, he gets angry, and when he gets angry, he drags the rest of the team down.
It would be awesome for us to play spoiler against LA, and make their playoff race just that little bit more difficult. Without any hardware to play for, it is now about having the team come together and start working towards 2020. A lot of that should be showing how we can play against teams like LA. I know it’s a Wednesday game, but let’s show up, be loud, and watch our Burgundy Boys show why one of the greatest soccer players of all time should fear us.