Following a hard-fought loss at the brand new Allianz Field, Columbus Crew SC continue the road stretch against the Western Conference. The last of four in a row versus teams from the West comes to a close when the Colorado Rapids host the Black & Gold on Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
While it’s no surprise that the Crew has been on the receiving end of a forgetful stretch of results, the Rapids season thus far would have fans think otherwise. Through 12 games, Colorado has a mere five points from a record of 1-9-2. They have conceded the second-most goals this season at 30, along with a -13 goal differential.
The Rapids have faced a lot of scrutiny in recent weeks, with financial issues circulating as the main headline attached to the club. One could make the argument that they’ve made the Crew’s issues on the pitch look nonexistent.
Let’s take a look at the Black & Gold’s upcoming Saturday night opponent and see how they stack up.
Colorado Rapids at a glance
Scoring leader: Kei Kamara (7)
Assist leader: Benny Feilhaber (2)
How they play:
Colorado Rapids interim head coach Conor Casey just recently took over the position and is coming off of the team’s first win of the season, a 1-0 road victory against the LA Galaxy. Looking at Casey and Colorado’s position through 12 games, they don’t seem to be in a place to change much. In other words: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. This 4-3-3 formation that he implemented was sound in all areas of the pitch through 90 minutes against LA.
An old friend, a new foe
Columbus fans will be quickly familiar with former club star and Rapids forward Kei Kamara. Kamara was historically good for the Black & Gold, with his best season coming in 2015 when he netted a league-high 22 goals and was a member of the 2015 MLS Best XI. That was all en route to the infamous MLS Cup Final defeat at the hands of the Portland Timbers.
Kamara is off to a solid start in 2019, already finding the back of the net seven times through 12 games. Unfortunately for Kamara, the help around him isn’t the best the league has to offer at the moment. He still has an eye for scoring and finishing but relies heavily on his own created chances opposed to others setting him up. Each of his seven goals this season has not received an assist from a teammate.
How the Crew win
We’re finally at a point where the Crew isn’t playing a team they’re expected to lose to. The Black & Gold’s previous five opponents (Minnesota United, Los Angeles Football Club, LA Galaxy, D.C. United and Houston Dynamo) have a combined 35 wins and 108 goals for.
Columbus can finally breathe knowing that, even on the road, they have a manageable opponent. Colorado, as previously stated, is dealing with much financial turmoil and front office issues. It’s also uncertain whether or not Casey will stay with the team long term.
The Crew will win if they can get back to their basics. While steady buildup and possessive play have compromised the offense during the last month and a half, Colorado’s issues translate to the pitch as well. Even with veteran goalkeeper and United States legend Tim Howard in net for the Rapids, there is not much help in front of him.
Assuming Waylon Francis and Zack Steffen are back for the Black & Gold (minor injury recoveries), Columbus should be able to handle Colorado with ease and bring three points back to MAPFRE Stadium for a month of home games in June.