It's been a long time since Major League Soccer fans have thought of the Colorado Rapids and really worried about the team coming into an away stadium and getting a result. That is what Columbus Crew SC is set to deal with Saturday evening as the Rapids bring the league's best record to MAPFRE Stadium.
After finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference with only 37 points a year ago, the Rapids are 7-2-2 to begin 2016. The addition of Jermaine Jones from the New England Revolution has helped ignite an offense that was the worst in MLS last season. Colorado head coach Pablo Mastroeni is playing the midfielder in a more advanced role and it is working with three goals and two assists.
Perhaps the player who has benefitted the most from the Jones addition is forward Luis Solignac, who after a 15 appearance, zero goal debut season, has three goals and two assists through 10 games this year.
On the other side, Columbus is trying to put the drama of the Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain incident of the last week behind them. Kamara has been shipped to the New England Revolution and it's time to move on.
There will be a new striker starting for the Black & Gold for the first time this season. After conceding a three-goal, second half lead last week, Crew SC are in desperate need of something positive and taking down the Rapids could be the recipe to turning around a disappointing start to the year that has the club sitting in ninth place in the East.
Keys to the Match
- Containing Jermaine Jones: With Tony Tchani likely out, Crew SC will need to figure out another way to be physical with the midfielder and keep him off the ball as much as possible.
- Watch out for the counter: The Rapids aren't a team that will come out and attack the Black & Gold. They will sit back and absorb pressure, but continues to find ways to score goals. No goals, no win for Colorado.
- Breaking down a tough defense: The Rapids have the second best defense in the league allowing just eight goals on the year. Columbus has to integrate a new striker. How will this bode for the Black & Gold?
How to Watch
Date/Time: May 14, 2016/7:30 p.m. EST
Venue: MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus, OH
Television: CW Columbus, TWC SportsChannel
Online: MLS Live
Radio: CD 102.5 (English), La Mega 103.1 (Spanish)