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Crew needs a rapid pivot to winning in Colorado

The Black & Gold travels to Denver to play the Rapids to try to open the scoring floodgates. 

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Minnesota United FC Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the facts for the 2019 Colorado Rapids: 12 games played, five points, one win, 30 goals against and a -13-goal differential.

The Rapids are the worst team in Major League Soccer. Despite team starters that include United States Men’s National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard and forward Kei Kamara, the Rapids have lost nine of the team’s 12 games.

Caleb Porter’s Columbus Crew SC (5-8-1, 16 points) has endured prolonged disappointment, with the team losing seven of its last eight games. Interestingly – and this may or may not be a good thing – both the Crew and the Rapids’ recent wins came against the LA Galaxy. On the losing side of the ball, Colorado’s past two defeats were by a 3-2 scoreline, whereas Columbus has lost 3-0 to Los Angeles Football Club and 1-0 to Minnesota United.

With only 12 goals on the season, the Crew has a golden opportunity and necessity to break out of its goal-scoring drought against a pathetic Rapids defense. For instance, moving the ball (and Colorado’s defense) in ways that would isolate Robinho on the left side just outside the 18-yard box for 1 v. 1 matchups would be a good challenge and opportunity for the speedy winger to showcase his burgeoning skill set.

And yet, the Black & Gold must be equally determined defensively, as Kamara will surely have Ethan Finlay-level motivation to score and sink his former club.

One of the many areas the Crew has to course-correct this weekend is its abysmal road record (1-5-0). The Black & Gold have not won a game on the road since – wait for it – March 9 when they defeated the struggling New England Revolution 2-0 in Gillette Stadium. But playing in Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver is actually one of the places where every team in MLS wants to play these days. While the stadium atmosphere is nice, the reason is that the Rapids are winless in its six home games. Need more good news for the Crew’s visit to Colorado this Saturday? How about the fact that Colorado has conceded 30 total goals on the year, which is second worst in the league to the Revolution’s 31 goals against.

And with Howard, now a 40 year old, in goal for Colorado, coupled with his defense’s embarrassing goals against statistic, the Columbus attacking players should take this as a rare moment in time to challenge the former USMNT great with the realistic outlook that they’ll get the better of him and his defense. That is if they take this weekend’s challenge seriously with direct intent and quick, purposeful combination play to create goal-scoring opportunities. The Crew cannot be intimidated by Howard’s past successes. Plus, Gyasi Zardes (4 goals) needs to find a goal and/or an assist to get his confidence rolling again in the right direction.

Columbus taking shots from outside the 18-yard box or finding the correct final or lead pass wouldn’t hurt, either.

This Saturday night’s match against the Colorado Rapids will reveal whether Columbus Crew has made necessary improvements offensively and defensively, as well as whether they will play down to the Rapids or play above the worst team in MLS. The altitude will be a factor, but it won’t be an excuse for what needs to be a win for a myriad of reasons before the Crew returns home for three consecutive games in MAPFRE Stadium next month.