PREVIEW – Less than 24 hours from now, the Colorado Rapids will play in their first playoff game since 2016. They will be playing at Minnesota United FC, who are in the MLS Cup Playoffs for just their second time ever.
Playoff Preview: Colorado Rapids Confident Going Into Road Game at Minnesota
These two teams played each other less than a month ago. The Loons won that contest 2-1 on a late own goal from Lalas Abubakar. Colorado were just coming back from their month off due to an outbreak of COVID-19. The performance had its moments but they ultimately lost.
“We played them pretty closely a few weeks ago. In the moments, we had good opportunities. In the moments you let your guard down, they can turn nothing into something,” Colorado Head Coach Robin Fraser said during his pregame press conference.
The Rapids went on to win their next three games to make the playoffs. The loss to Minnesota was a big improvement over the previous game, a 4-0 loss at Sporting KC. They improved each game to round into form just in time for the postseason.
“We started to turn a page; we deserved at least a point (at Minnesota). We have confidence going in. There’s familiarity. We have to take confidence from how well we’ve played. If we play like that, we’ll pick up the win,” Captain Jack Price told Last Word on Soccer.
Playoff ‘Experience’ and Road Warrior Mentality:
This will be a tough match. It is a road game for Colorado Rapids. For most of their players, it will be their first playoff game. That said, the team feels prepared given their experiences this year.
“The last five games in the regular season, there was pressure on them cause we needed to pick up points (to make the playoffs),” said Price.
In a way, the Rapids have already been playing must-win playoff-like games for over awhile. The team has also grown accustomed to the new normal with road games, playing 9 of 15 in-market games on the road.
“I enjoy taking my game to the home team and making them feel like they’re away. We have that mentality: We don’t care that we’re on the road. We just try to go there and do the same things we do at home,” said Homegrown Cole Bassett.
Time to Properly Prepare:
Two weeks of just training has helped Colorado get settled as well. Kellyn Acosta is getting back to full fitness and the team is in good health. Robin Fraser has had the squad working on playing with and against pressure to prepare for Minnesota.
“In terms of moving the ball quickly, what sort of pressure we expect from them and how to deal with that, simulating that, on the attacking end and defending end,” said Fraser.
There was some uncertainty going into this week about the availability of players on international duty. That was cleared up this week. While negative COVID tests and fitness are a mystery, the Rapids aren’t phased.
“We’ve been under the assumption for awhile that they’ll have everyone and that’s how we’ll go about it. That announcement was made recently and for awhile that’s how we’ve gone about it,” said Fraser.
Last Word: A Game of Inches
Minnesota and Colorado have historically played close games. No team has won in this rivalry by more than one goal. Those winners have usually come late.
“It will be a tight game. The team that executes better in those moments will end up winning,” said Fraser.
This game finds Colorado Rapids confident, healthy, and ready for the adversity of the playoffs. If they play as well as they have, those moments will go their way unlike last time.