Players can be a little forgetful of the details and the Colorado Rapids are no different. On a whiteboard in the locker room, they are this week being urged not to forget their passports as they travel to Canada. More tellingly, there is also a note on that same board that reads "If you are healthy and not suspended, you are traveling." Just like Toronto last year on the road, the Rapids are down to bare bones in terms of bodies to put on the field.
Last year, a very inexperienced defense (Keel, Zambrano and others) were thrown into the fire that is BMO Field and did creditably enough but it was too much to ask and the Rapids lost easily. This year, thankfully, the defense for Toronto tomorrow looks a lot more solid. Expect an unchanged backline from last week. Minus the goalkeeper. Matt Pickens has injured his knee in practice and is out for at least two weeks. Preston Burpo, so patient all season long, will therefore get an opportunity tomorrow. The Rapids will also have the tandem of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings upfront. The availability problems are in midfield. Pablo Mastroeni will be curling up on the sofa at home watching the game because he is the suspended one. Gary Smith told me yesterday that Jamie Smith is out for the season to join Colin Clark on the dreaded season-ending DL. Take a look at the Rapids' website link on projected line-ups and you will see that Greg Dalby will get the start tomorrow. Mehdi Ballouchy is not listed as starting.
So, it may not be all that pretty tomorrow. Service will have to come from Jacob Peterson and assist king Cummings, it looks like. Maybe the big fella can get his pate on another couple of crosses and we could escape with something. Toronto will be a very different proposition at home tomorrow after being so poor last week. They will have internationals such as Guevara back after the World Cup qualifying schedule and they have a certain Canadian DP announced this week. Gary Smith has reiterated his desire to get to the magic 40 points and is looking at tomorrow's game plus the home and away series against San Jose to reach that. It would then leave four games to secure a playoff position.
Kick off tomorrow is at 2pm Mountain Time. The official viewing party is at GB Fish and Chips. See you there.