The Colorado Rapids traveled to California yesterday to prepare for tonight's game against San Jose before, bizarrely, playing the same team again next Wednesday at DSG Park. What an important game tonight's game is. After losing at Toronto to record their fourth straight away defeat, the Rapids know that a point tonight against a struggling team will be the least they can come away with before, hopefully, picking up three points at home next week. If they can manage all three tonight plus a win next week, that would take them to 42 points, a figure that Gary Smith thinks now is the benchmark for reaching the playoffs.
If, if, if. The trouble with the MLS is that you can never tell what the results are going to be. If a contending team in the Premier League played a basement team, you are pretty much going to know the result, Burnley v Man U gloriously excepted. In the MLS, who knows? Yes, San Jose may be poor but they did beat Seattle 4-0 at home this season and I seem to remember the Rapids losing 2-0 to them at DSG Park last year. A point would be good, a win even better and a loss very disappointing. Point to me for stating the bleeding obvious.
My best guess on the line-up would be pretty similar to how the second half against Toronto started. Scott Palguta, who came on for a poor Pat Noonan after 45 minutes last week, is fully recovered from injury and illness and looks likely to start at left back. That would mean Jordan Harvey moving up more to left midfield as he did in the second half in Canada. Mehdi Ballouchy is back and will take a central midfield role with Greg Dalby whom Smith has praised on www.mlsnet.com for last week's performance. I think Noonan will pay the price for his form last week and drop to the bench. That's my guess, anyway. All I know is that Smith wasn't happy with Noonan's form and he doesn't have all that much patience with poor performances. Matt Pickens and Cory Gibbs continue to rehab from their injuries and will be out for at least the next two weeks.
The key to tonight may be how clinical the strike pairing is upfront. Conor Casey has been incredibly consistent all season and, if he can be at his bullish best, he could give a fragile San Jose back four all sorts of problems. So could speedster, Omar Cummings. We just need Omar to be on the type of finishing form he showed in Chicago rather than last week. I don't know how Omar gets into some positions to score. He is one of the best in the league at doing that. The downside is that he can still miss seemingly certain goals once he gets in those positions. He is so close to being a complete player. Let's hope he bangs them in tonight if he gets himself into scoring positions.
Kickoff is at 9pm Mountain Time with the official viewing party at Fado's.