As we return to Denver for our third match with the Colorado Rapids this year, our old foes are enjoying the last of a four-game homestand. With a record of 6W-3D-3L, Colorado has 21 points and sits in fourth place in the West, but their most recent performance lacked some sparkle as they are struggling with several absences for the Gold Cup. Like FC Dallas, they are in the midst of three games in eight days.
Coming into the match against Dallas, Colorado has been playing well, but they will probably be disappointed to drop points against San Jose at home. However, playing without USMNT players Kellyn Acosta, Sam Vines, and Dillon Lewis, as well as the injured Younes Namli, Colorado will be stretched. Ordinarily, we might expect significant squad rotation for the match – especially given that 10 of the 11 starters played 87 minutes or more on Saturday. But the reality is that Colorado simply doesn’t have many players left on the bench who have contributed this season.
Projected Starters: 4-2-3-1
Nicolas Benezet – Nicolas Mezquida – Michael Barrios
Jack Price – Cole Bassett
Auston Trusty – Lalas Abubakar – Dan Wilson – Keegan Rosenberry
Andre Shinyashiki played the full 90 on Saturday, so it makes sense to rotate Rubio into this match, but I honestly don’t know who else Robin Fraser will utilize. Benezet made his first start of the season last weekend and played 65 minutes. But Mezquida has played sparingly. Yaya Toure subbed on in the 87th minute to make his first appearance of the season. Colorado heads to Salt Lake City on Saturday for a rivalry match, so I won’t be surprised if they rotate their starters further, but I don’t know who it will be. Also worth noting, Jack Price and Dan Wilson are one yellow card away from suspension – and the team can scarcely afford to lose them, so they may be forced to play more conservatively.
Keys to the Match:
1) Colorado has 18 goals on the season from 10 different players, and a few of their shots come from within the six-yard box. Most of their shots – including Bassett’s goal on Saturday - come from the periphery of the 18-yard box, so Dallas needs to be sure to step to shooters and track runners into the box.
2) No Dallas fan wants to hear about moral victories at the moment. We just want wins.... and maybe an opportunity to tar and feather our preferred scapegoats. Franco Jara started on Saturday and given that we won’t have much opportunity to practice this week with three games in eight days, I’m assuming that he will start again, but I’m hoping Paxton Pomykal was dynamic enough against Portland to convince Luchi Gonzalez that Colorado cannot simply collapse their defense around Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira as the Galaxy did. And if so, I want to see Dallas put fresh legs on the field on the right wing in the form of Szabolcs Schon – I’m borderline obsessed with this kid. But the key is that the wings need to relieve pressure on Pepi if he’s leading the line. And whoever plays on the right side needs to take advantage of Sam Vines’ absence.
3) No matter who starts, Luchi needs to use his subs in this one. While I’ve noted Colorado’s limited depth, Dallas faces the same congestion demands. Can Pomykal start three games in one week? I doubt the team risks it. For the sake of our own players and for the clear intent of throwing fresh legs at what will inevitably be a tired Colorado defense, Luchi needs to learn when to sub and take advantage of our depth – not that we have Brian McBride or Claudio Reyna languishing on the bench, but Jader Obrian’s speed or Andres Ricaurte’s vision might help against an aging Drew Moor or Steve Beitashour if Colorado’s reserves are pressed into service.
That’s all I’ve got. Fingers crossed, everybody!