The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup is in the rearview mirror after the Houston Dynamo were defeated by Sporting Kansas City 0-2 earlier this week. The Dynamo meanwhile hope to take advantage of the Colorado Rapids, who currently sit in the last place spot in the Western Conference, to get their first win on the road. The Dynamo have made several strides forward in their latest away fixtures, notably their 0-0 draw with FC Dallas and their 2-2 draw to the LA Galaxy which was nearly a win were it not for a controversial equalizing goal in stoppage time by the Galaxy.
In our preview of the match we discussed the Dynamo on the road and players that won’t be available, but we wanted an insider’s perspective on our opponents so we spoke with John Rosch at Burgundy Wave to discuss the upcoming game.
Dynamo Theory: With both clubs playing a US Open Cup midweek fixture (thank you very much schedulers) what kind of adjustments can we expect from Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni?
Burgundy Wave: Yeah, the schedulers did not do either the Dynamo or the Rapids any favors this week as the Rapids traveled from Atlanta to Dallas and then back to Denver. I am not sure that the midweek game will have much on an impact, to be honest. The larger concern is that the Rapids lost three starters (Axel Sjoberg, Dillon Powers and Shkelzen Gashi) in the 3-1 loss to FC Dallas in the US Open Cup. So I think that whoever gets the call on Saturday will be more of a matter of who is healthy.
I think that Pablo is going to continue to go with a 4-4-2 and try to establish possession and build through the back rather than play off the counter as they tend to do on the road. But again, the biggest adjustments will come from who is healthy.
DT: The Rapids finished 2016 2nd place overall, just 2 points behind Supporter Shield winners FC Dallas. Currently the Rapids sit at the bottom of the Western Conference table. What has been the most significant reason for such a huge fall off?
BW: This is an excellent question and one that we are beginning to examine here at the Wave. Is it a matter of a terrible off-season (yes, it was terrible) or is it a matter of a lack of quality depth (yep, that too)?
The reality is that the Rapids significantly over-achieved in 2016 and in 2017 they are experiencing a return to form that has been a hallmark of the franchise. Since the team won the MLS Cup in 2010, the Rapids have only made the playoffs three times, so it is not like that success has followed this team this decade. I think the disappointing thing with all of this is that the Rapids built up a ton of good will last season and have squandered it with a terrible start and are poised to fall back into irrelevancy in the Denver sports landscape.
DT: How can the Rapids get back into a playoff position (they’re certainly not too far behind to be out of it) and how can they utilize the summer transfer window to achieve that?
BW: I do not believe that they can make the playoffs this year...but assuming that they can, they need one thing: finding an ability to score goals. The Rapids continue to struggle with the putting the ball in the net. For whatever reason they can build up fine from the back and midfield, but simply cannot score goals. They have only 48 shots on goal (in 16 games) which is far and away the lowest mark in the league. The Rapids need a way to put more shots on frame and hopefully that can lead to a turnaround. It's MLS, so anything is possible, but right now the playoffs seem a road too far.
As for the window, a tried and true #10 is what the Rapids need and just don't have that player on the roster. The larger question for Rapids fans and the front office is this: who is that player and is it worth trying to get them now, or wait until the off-season.
Projected Lineup: Tim Howard, Marlon Hairston, Kortne Ford, Eric Miller, Mekeil Williams, Dillon Serna, Bismark Adjei-Boateng, Micheal Azira, Josh Gatt, Kevin Doyle, Dominique Badji
Predicted Outcome: Colorado Rapids 1:1 Houston Dynamo
For my answers to John’s excellent questions check them out at the Burgundy Wave!