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Rapids poised to grapple with Nashville SC tonight in a must-win dual

On the playoff bubble Burgundy Boys looking to catch a few breaks in the final seven games and book a ticket into post-season play. It all starts in GEODIS Stadium this evening.

John Babiak

A question many Colorado Rapids fans are asking is whether or not Lady Luck will saddle up with the team in their remaining home and away matches. In previous seasons she has. This year she has yet to appear and lend a much-needed boot to Team Burgundy’s effort to capture a playoff berth.

Perhaps an outright cold shoulder is forthcoming.

The Rapids currently sit in 11th place in the compact and full-of-parity MLS Western Conference. They are down only four positions in the table from securing the final playoff spot. With 32 points to their credit, they are only 5 points from tying the L.A. Galaxy, which currently holds the elusive No. 7 slot.

The Rapids aim to bring home six points this week- three from Tennessee and another three from the District of Columbia this coming Sunday evening. Outright wins in both venues are well within the team’s reach.

Two spots above the Galaxy sit tonight’s intra-conference rival, Nashville SC. They will play host to Colorado in their brand spanking new, envy of all MLS venue and often sold-out- GEODIS Stadium in suburban Nashville.

The Rapids seek to revenge for a 3-1 defeat at DICK’s Sporting Goods Park that also busted their 23-game home winning streak in late May. Colorado aims to derail a chugging Nashville team that have rebounded from four consecutive losses at home and have put together a 2-game winning streak. In capturing six points, Nashville has vaulted into 5th place in the standings.

That could have been Colorado in fifth place had they held off Houston and Columbus or beat Vancouver in their most recent contests.

The Yellow and Black intend to make in two-in-a-row in rowdy GEODIS Park. They whitewashed Vancouver this past Saturday, 3-nil, the same Whitecaps team that Colorado lost to this month, 2-1 in British Columbia.

Rapids’ striker Diego Rubio is ready both for the attack-minded opponents and hyperactive supporters.

“I love big crowds; it motivates me; I hope it motivates the whole team.” said the team leader in his pregame sound-byte. Rubio added, “I mean, imagine winning in front of 25,000, 30,000 fans, so I hope we can do our best, we can enjoy playing in this new stadium and of course you know to respect the rival and that they’re a very good team but we need to play our game.”

John Babiak

Fraser, like the good father that he is at home has been walking an emotional tightrope managing his professional team that has been unlucky so many times this season. He has maintained his disciplined self-control and not knocked the heads off of a few players after their relapses.

Following the recent heart-breaking match with the Dynamo, Fraser opened up and spoke at length. The gaggle of media types waited a bit for Fraser, who was occupied lecturing the team after they went down one man, and then gave up the tying goal to Houston in the final seconds of stoppage time. It was an exciting and nail-biting home game up to the closing seconds and should have generated three points.

When asked about his approach to the team, the skipper said, “That’s a great question because you definitely think about, ‘Is this a spirited discussion? Is this too harsh? Is this fair? Is it not fair? Should I cool down, come back tomorrow?’ But certain things happened that just had to be addressed, and I don’t really think I’m an overly emotional person, so it’s not that I fly off the handle and say things that I regret later on, but there were some harsh discussions.” He continued. “And the fact of the matter is we’ve shot ourselves in the foot several times this year, and if we keep doing that, then our season is going to be really short. And at some point, we all have to take responsibility.”

He slapped the top of his table and added, “We have to take responsibility for choices we made as a coaching staff; the players have to take responsibility for decisions and execution or lack of execution within the game.”

His presser echoed similar sentiments after the team’s shellacking in Chester, PA. More often than not, calm and collective Fraser must be at his wit's end trying to find the right lesson plans and motivational tips to turn his unlucky team around.

Whatever was said after the Houston match in the changing room apparently did not stick. Philadelphia crushed Colorado, 6-0.

“More than anything, I’m just disappointed in the individual mistakes,” said Fraser in the Union Subaru Park. “We keep getting snake-bitten by individual mistakes. Obviously, once we had the red card, the game changed completely. At that point, it was a matter of trying to be solid defensively. It’s one thing to give up two goals in 15 minutes. That certainly has happened far too often this season, but then to go down three goals and down a man at 30, I think, it’s definitely always going to be an uphill challenge.”

And an uphill challenge the Burgundy Boys have. After Nashville and D.C. United, in-conference rivals- Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles Galaxy, Dallas, and Austin will squarely be in their sights. Twenty-one points are hanging on the tree to be snagged, bagged, and poached.

John Babiak

From my vantage point behind the flashing advertisement boards around the pitch, I am convinced that the team has lacked the presence of Jack Price.

One has to wonder if the late-season return of the practically infallible Price could propel Colorado into the playoffs. Or is it simply too late?

The captain had sufficiently mended his early season

injuries to make the starting XI against Minnesota on August 6th. Forty-four minutes into the match, Price was gored in his upper body, and we haven’t seen him since.

Respectfully said, it is challenging to replace Price and all that this selfless soldier brings to the game.

It would be a God send if he returned and breathed some life into the Rapids game. The Burgundy Boys win when Price is at the helm of the ship.

During last season’s productive campaign, Price delivered 12 assists and generated 91 shot-creating events. His steady leadership has been sorely missed in 2022.

During the team’s workout in metro Nashville yesterday, Fraser shared his perspective about coming back to Commerce City with dividends from this road trip. “The points are extremely important. Both teams need them; we probably need him more than Nashville does. But certainly, they are going to be fighting for them as well. So we do feel good that we’re able to rest a few guys; they also did the same. And I would think it will be a really hotly-contested affair.”

By now, the loss in Pennsylvania has been forgotten. Hopefully, Fraser’s season-long messages are resonating in the minds of his position players, and they will high jack 3 points in Tennessee.