Rapids hope bye works as advantage vs. Timbers in West semifinal
11/24/2021 1:36:49 PM EST
The Colorado Rapids were the second-best team in the MLS in 2016 and then experienced a steep decline.
This season, the Rapids surged to the top of the Western Conference and would like to think earning the bye in the postseason works to their advantage Thursday when they host the Portland Timbers in the conference semifinals.
The MLS is playing for the first time on Thanksgiving -- the game will appear on FOX after the NFL's first game between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears -- with the winner advancing to the conference finals against Real Salt Lake or Sporting Kansas City.
The Rapids earned the top spot by going 17-7-10 in the regular season and their 61 points were one ahead of the Seattle Sounders, who lost in penalty kicks to Real Salt Lake on Tuesday.
"We know it's going to be a tough game, a tough match. Colorado's done very well this season," Portland coach Gio Savarese said. "They have a very good team, they have good selections in players and the entire staff has done a phenomenal job to be able to have a good season. So, we expect them to be very good, but we are also preparing very well to make sure we are competitive
The Rapids scored 51 goals, the fewest among the Western Conference's top four seeds but their 35 goals allowed were second-best in the West.
Colorado is led by Michael Barrios, who scored eight goals and had six assists. Barrios is among five players who scored at least five goals for Colorado, including Jonathan Lewis, who scored twice on Nov. 7 as Colorado leaped into first place with a 5-2 rout of LAFC.
Goalkeeper William Yarbrough led the league with 17 wins and tied for the league lead with 13 clean sheets.
Also responsible for Colorado's success is coach Robin Fraser, who took over in August 2019. The Rapids were in the midst of missing the postseason for a third straight season when he took over for Conor Casey, and Fraser guided them to a 5-2 finish before vaulting Colorado into fifth in the West last season.
"We're more a team than we were my first two years here," Colorado captain Jack Price said. "You can see the fight we have. We dig in for each other and we have that never-say-quit attitude."
Fraser and the Rapids are now focused on stopping Sebastian Blanco, who scored twice in the second half of Portland's 3-1 first-round win over Minnesota on Sunday. Blanco scored seven goals in 24 regular-season games after returning from a torn ACL and supported Felipe Mora and Dairon Asprilla, who combined for 21 goals.
"It has to be a complete team effort in terms of awareness and communication," Fraser said. "He floats around the field and finds good pockets of space, and through good communication we need to minimize the amount of times he can receive balls in dangerous spots and have the opportunity to hurt us."
Portland enters on a five-game winning streak, having scored 14 goals since a 2-0 loss in Colorado on Oct. 23.
--Field Level Media
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 15:15:06 EST Hall of Famer Curley Culp dies at 75
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 14:36:53 EST Titans place WR A.J. Brown on injured reserve
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 13:05:33 EST Griffin Carroll: NFL Week 12 TD prop picks
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 11:08:34 EST Browns activate RB Kareem Hunt, RT Jack Conklin from IR
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 16:36:28 EST Bills star CB Tre'Davious White (ACL) out for season
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 16:33:12 EST Aaron Rodgers (toe) to play vs. Rams despite not practicing all week
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 14:07:57 EST Browns to activate RB Kareem Hunt, RT Jack Conklin
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 13:37:58 EST Bears QB Justin Fields (ribs) to remain starter upon return
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 13:21:16 EST Bucs WR Mike Evans (back) returns to practice
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 13:18:14 EST Rays' Wander Franco signs blockbuster extension
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 13:14:05 EST Mariners acquire Adam Frazier from Padres
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 00:54:51 EST Reports: Mets to sign Starling Marte, two others
Fri, 26 Nov 2021 18:24:01 EST Red Sox on verge of signing RHP Michael Wacha
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 12:25:33 EST All-Star RHP Wade Davis announces retirement
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 11:55:33 EST Mets owner rips Steven Matz's agent for 'unprofessional behavior'
Wed, 24 Nov 2021 01:17:51 EST Reports: Cards, LHP Steven Matz agree to 4-year deal
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 20:37:38 EST Shohei Ohtani lands on All-MLB first and second teams
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 17:34:35 EST Yankees release Clint Frazier, Rougned Odor
Tue, 23 Nov 2021 16:31:18 EST Report: White Sox add RHP Kendall Graveman
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 18:29:18 EST Sixers star C Joel Embiid back after nine-game COVID-19 absence
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 17:03:19 EST Raptors face Celtics hoping a return home is the answer
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 15:56:54 EST Bucks take six-game streak into visit with Pacers
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 14:43:39 EST Playing with 'purpose,' Warriors set to face Clippers
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 16:59:50 EST Grizzlies look to adjust without Ja Morant vs. Kings
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 10:39:27 EST Jazz aim to address home woes vs. Pelicans
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 04:43:41 EST Wizards set to oppose well-rested Mavericks
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 04:34:09 EST Rockets hope to slow hot-shooting Hornets
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 04:25:31 EST Cavaliers still fighting, but could use a win against Orlando
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 04:13:15 EST Not exactly on fire on the road, Heat travel to Chicago
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 18:14:51 EST Islanders' next two games postponed due to COVID-19 outbreak
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 18:02:36 EST Devils and Flyers try to bounce back against each other
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 17:27:42 EST Blackhawks try to stay hot at home, face Sharks
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 16:59:12 EST Lightning pleased with team effort ahead of visit to Wild
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 14:25:24 EST Hot Rangers try to extend Isles' 8-game streak of misery
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 11:26:16 EST Artemi Panarin fined $5K for throwing glove at Brad Marchand
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 11:21:16 EST Capitals, Hurricanes test mettle in battle of heavyweights
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 10:59:13 EST Rested Flames aim to continue good fortune vs. Jets
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 10:49:15 EST Matt Duchene, Predators visit Avalanche
Sat, 27 Nov 2021 04:24:13 EST Surging Blue Jackets take on slumping Blues