MLS Preview: Colorado Rapids vs. FC Dallas
With much of Colorado under water from recent flooding, the Rapids issued a statement earlier today to tell fans their massive Western Conference matchup with Dallas will indeed take place.
Now that that’s taken care of, the home side can focus on fending off the first of many challengers for their 4th place position in the West - FC Dallas.
Including Saturday’s tie, Colorado finish their season with four matches against the teams directly below them - three happen to be in a row to close out the year). If the Rapids are going to grab a playoff spot, they’re going to have to earn it.
Unlike the vital matchup with playoff implications in the Eastern Conference taking place tomorrow, these two teams come in red hot. The Rapids have just one single loss in their last 11 matches, and have picked up 22 points during that stretch.
Edson Buddle has been vital in the recent going. After not featuring for much of the season’s first half, he’s played in 14 of their last 16 matches (11 starts) and has scored in each of the Rapids’ last three games. His 75th minute score last week was the game’s lone goal as the Rapids held on for a big 1-0 win on the road at the LA Galaxy.
Dallas have only recently turned things around from a miserable mid-season stretch, but they have two wins in their last three and seven points over that short stretch.
Last week’s 3-1 win over Vancouver was a huge boost to the Dallas squad, and head coach Schellas Hyndman acknowledged that fact. “These are the types of game that, if you look at your season and say, ‘Where did it turn?’ you might say this was the game” he said after the match.
Now, despite the poor form through the season’s dog days, FC Dallas sit just two points out of a playoff spot as the home stretch truly begins.
Argentinian midfielder Mauro Diaz has been a big part of the recent turnaround. He joined the squad mid-July in the middle of their terrible slump. Since joining, he’s played in five matches and has two goals and an assist, including one of each in the win over the Whitecaps after coming on in the 74th minute. The youngster has been a big part of the club’s recent turnaround, and could be a key cog if the club were to squeeze its way into the playoff picture.
So which club will make serious strides towards a postseason berth? At this point in the season, with things so tight, only a single point will do either team no good, and only would serve to open the door for other winners around the league. Can anyone grab the full spoils?