Colorado Rapids have the Western Conference top spot in their sights and could climb to first place with victory against Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Robin Fraser’s side are just one point behind league leaders Seattle Sounders with one game in hand, while LA Galaxy could also make a big stride towards catching the leading pack this weekend, currently sitting five points behind their hosts.
Colorado are in fine form heading into Saturday’s fixture, only losing once in their last 12 outings, dating back to the beginning of July.
The Rapids left it late last time out when they travelled to face San Jose Earthquakes, relying on substitute Dominique Badji to score his first goal of the campaign and the only goal of the game in the 89th minute, just one minute after entering the field of play.
Colorado faced challenges for that clash against the Earthquakes on Sunday, as midfield pair Kellyn Acosta and Mark-Anthony Kaye were away on international duty, but the victory highlights the strength and depth of Fraser’s squad.
Fraser will be pleased with the three points, and also the clean sheet that William Yarbrough earned, as it was the first time the defence had stopped the other team from scoring in five outings.
Only Seattle Sounders have a better defensive record this season than Colorado Rapids, who have conceded just one more goal than the Western Conference leaders, but Yarbrough is joint top of the national clean sheet chart in his personal hunt for the Golden Glove.
Greg Vanney’s side stopped their run of two consecutive defeats from becoming three with a 3-3 draw against California rivals Los Angeles FC last time out.
Dejan Joveljic had put Galaxy 1-0 ahead before his second goal in the 64th minute levelled the scoreline, and the visitors had to wait until four minutes from time before Kevin Cabral earned a point for the fourth-placed outfit.
Prior to that derby fixture, Vanney’s team had started to struggle slightly in front of goal, not scoring more than one goal in a game in their previous five outings.
Joveljic arrived from Eintracht Frankfurt in August, and the brace that he scored on Sunday were his first goals for LA Galaxy, who have needed a player to step up in front of goal since Javier Hernandez has been sidelined with injury.
These two sides last met on August 18, when Colorado Rapids ran out as 2-1 winners, thanks to goals from Jonathan Lewis and Andre Shinyashiki.
On-loan midfielder Younes Namli has been absent from Colorado’s squad since early May due to a broken ankle, and he is going to miss out again this Saturday as he continues his recovery.
Centre-back Lalas Abubakar was forced off after six minutes last time out, meaning that he is likely to be unavailable this weekend, with Drew Moor expected to come into the starting lineup.
United States international Acosta and Canadian midfielder Kaye will be available to Fraser this weekend, but having both played on Thursday, they may start this game on the bench for added rest time after the international week.
Hernandez continues to be an absentee for LA Galaxy, currently recovering from a calf injury, and having not featured for this side since the end of June, he is unlikely to be fully fit for this weekend’s fixture.
Left-back Jorge Villafana picked up a knee injury in the middle of August, and he has been ruled out of action until at least the end of September. Finland international Niko Hamalainen is expected to return in the full-back position after representing his country this month.
Colorado Rapids possible starting lineup:
Yarbrough; Wilson, Moor, Rosenberry; Esteves, Warner, Price, Galvan; Shinyashiki, Bassett; Barrios
Los Angeles Galaxy possible starting lineup:
Bond; Hamalainen, Williams, Coulibaly, Araujo; Raveloson, Dos Santos; Cabral, Vazquez, Lletget; Joveljic.
Colorado Rapids 2-1 Los Angeles Galaxy
Colorado Rapids have only lost once in their 10 home games this season, while LA Galaxy have lost as many games as they have won away from home.
Galaxy will have been glad to not lose the fixture against LAFC, but the 3-3 draw could have sapped some energy out of the side, while the Rapids are lifted from their victory against San Jose Earthquakes.