Rapids-Sporting Kansas City Preview

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Robin Fraser is delighted with the progress made by Colorado Rapids this season but has admitted that his side are still far from the finished project.

The Rapids have won four of their last five matches, drawing the other game in that sequence, to move up to third in the Western Conference standings.

Fraser’s side could end the week behind only Seattle Sounders in the West as they have a huge showdown with second-placed Sporting Kansas City to come at Children’s Mercy Park on Saturday.

It has been a fine turnaround by the Rapids, who won less than half of their 18 regular season games in the shortened 2020 season, and Fraser is hopeful that his side will continue to improve.

“We find ourselves in the spot where we are better than last year,” he said. “We’re certainly not perfect. We’re certainly not saying we’re the best in the league.

“But we’re better than last year, which is the trajectory that we wanted to be on. So as we approach the playoffs and we’re still not in it, obviously, the first goal is to get into the playoffs.

“The second goal is, in this time period, can we continue to build our confidence, our understanding, our discipline and our focus? That will be tested if we make the playoffs.”

The Rapids’ next opponents Sporting KC have spent a period atop the division this season, but they have won just two of their last six league games, drawing the last two of those.

Sporting head coach Peter Vermes was unhappy with decisions that went against his side in the stalemate with Minnesota United last week, putting it down to a lack of respect.

“Our guys are up for the challenge and they bring it. No matter what the circumstances are, they go to fight,” Vermes said.

“I have incredible respect for the guys in the locker room because they know it, they feel it, they see it, they experience it. Unfortunately, they don’t get the respect they deserve.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Sporting Kansas City – Daniel Salloi

Salloi was brought on as a second-half substitute against Minnesota and could not keep his goalscoring streak alive, the run ending after three matches. However, the Hungarian striker has been involved in at least one goal in Sporting’s last six home games, netting six times himself and setting up two more.

Colorado Rapids – Jack Price

The Rapids’ seven goals during their current three-game winning streak have been scored by seven different players. Price set up a couple of those goals and has seven assists for the season. The 28-year-old has yet to score this term, though you would not bet against that changing here given the way the goals have been spread out.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Sporting Kansas City have won 15 of their last 21 home matches against Colorado, including the last two in a row (D3 L3, including playoffs). Sporting have scored seven times in the last two meetings between the teams in Kansas City.

– SKC are winless in three straight home matches (D2 L1) after winning five of their previous six at Children’s Mercy Park. Sporting have dropped more points in their last three home matches (seven) than they did in their previous 10 regular season home matches dating back to October 2020 (four – W8 D2).

– The Rapids have won three straight away matches for the first time since April-May 2000. The only four-match road winning streak in team history was from June to July 1999 and included a win at Kansas City.

– Salloi has been involved in at least one goal in Sporting’s last six home matches. The club record for consecutive regular season home games with a goal contribution is seven, set by Preki in 2002-03 and matched by Benny Feilhaber in 2015 and Johnny Russell in 2018.

– Colorado’s last three goals have all been scored via headers, taking the Rapids to eight headed goals this season, one short of the league-high of nine, held by Orlando and New England Revolution. The Rapids are one of two teams (along with Seattle Sounders) yet to concede a headed goal this season.

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