With Sporting Kansas City looking to put last week far behind them, the Colorado Rapids are paying a visit on Saturday. I spoke with Abbie from our sister site, the Burgundy Wave, to get some inside info about the match.
Here are Three Questions But Really Six:
We ask them...
Cody Bradley: It looked like Shkelzen Gashi was back from injury, but only made it the first half before subbing out. What is his status going forward?
Abbie Mood Lang: Gashi was supposed to be back and fine and then he pulled something in his groin last week. After the game, Anthony Hudson commented that he was sort of forced to play Gashi due to other injuries and issues in the midfield, but his original issue was a calf strain, so maybe he just wasn’t ready for 70-90 minutes. At practice on Tuesday, Gashi was sitting out and talking to a trainer, but as of now he’s not listed on the injury report. I doubt we’ll see him start this weekend.
CB: Anthony Hudson has 7 MLS matches under his belt. What is the general feeling towards him among the Rapid faithful?
AML: I think there are some mixed feelings. More often than not, fans are seeing the potential in the new guys and seeing a difference in this team, but there are definitely growing frustrations with dropping so many points in games that we should have won. Hudson has a very different style and approach than we’re used to, and while many fans are still onboard, there are some naysayers starting to surface.
CB: Rapids are a hard team to figure out right now. 3-0 over Philadelphia and 2-0 over Toronto, but then a 3-0 loss to RSL. Are they really good or really bad? What causes the disparity?
AML: Right now, the Rapids are somewhere in between. Every game they have moments where they look great and moments where you wonder what is even going on out there. With so many changes in the offseason, Hudson and company is still trying to figure out how to put together a full 90 minutes of solid soccer. The Rapids have been struggling with closing out games, like we saw in the first Colorado/SKC match when Rubio got the tying goal in extra time. Against RSL, Howard got a red card in the 20th minute. They held on until a dumb handball in the box in the 82nd minute and it all fell apart from there. It seems like a lack of focus, and that’s what will determine whether they end up actually being really good or really bad.
We’ve also had injuries to a couple key players this season (Gashi as you mentioned, but also Kortne Ford and Marlon Hairston).
Burgundy Wave Predictions
Lineup: Howard; Wynne, Wilson, Smith; Serna, Nicholson (just got him from MNUFC) Price, Martinez, Castillo; Badji, Mason
Score: 1-1 draw, but I’m not gonna lie - it’s gonna be a tough one.
They ask us...
Abbie Mood Lang: Sporting brought in quite a few new guys this offseason - who do you think has had the biggest impact so far and why?
Cody Bradley: At this point I have to go with Johnny Russell. Felipe Gutierrez is the driving force and MVP, but the team has been without him for a while now. Russell has become very comfortable on the right wing for SKC and banged in 5 goals (level with Gutierrez for team lead) and has 2 assists as well. He makes trademark runs into the box where he isn’t afraid to run straight at multiple defenders. He sacrifices his body on every play. And he is already won the hearts & minds of SKC fans by defending teammates in scuffles. The team is now more exciting, forceful, and better yet; more lethal.
AML: Felipe Gutierrez has been out for a few games already and SKC seems to be doing okay without him, but how much of a blow is losing him for the next couple of months due to his hernia surgery?
CB: Before last week everyone would have been care free. It looked like SKC could rack up the goals without him, but a 1-0 shutout in New England makes it more difficult to not worry. It’s a huge blow to lose him for 2-3 months as this team was looking unstoppable with him driving the bus. Yohan Croizet has been filling in for the attacking midfielder position but was a big let down last week. There are still questions with how exactly this team will lineup without Felipe, but my guess is that Jimmy Medranda is going to get a shot at playing in that #10 spot. He’s built up confidence and is having a great season since moving to left-back. However, this doesn’t mean Croizet won’t be playing. We could see him on the wing or even at striker.
So really I guess what I’m saying is.. I don’t freaking know. Their maestro is gone and it was VERY noticeable last match. Someone is going to have to step up big.
AML: SKC’s game against NE last week wasn’t pretty. Did NE expose any of KC’s weaknesses or was it just a terrible game? If it was the former, what weaknesses are you worried about, if it was the latter, how do you think the team has adjusted?
CB: I really can’t pick them apart too terribly. They were not playing nearly as well as they had shown they are capable of this season, but they had their chances to pull out a result. Moreover, the goal that was scored against them should really have an asterisk next to it.
Going to New England on the turf isn’t easy. Away trips in MLS aren’t easy no matter where it is. This team has proven to have a deadly attack and I’m not going to look into the loss as some big overlying problem, or that Sporting isn’t as good as we all thought. With that being said, what was exposed was that Croizet is not going to be the guy they need at #10. He had a great game the week before, a breakout Player of the Week type performance. He then had a huge opportunity to build off the confidence from that game and show his team he can be the guy. But he was very, very quiet and made some head shaking mistakes before subbing out in the 63’ minute. I do believe Croizet will find success with SKC somewhere this season, but last week showed me he still has a ways to go if he wants to truly fit into that #10 on the back of his jersey.
The Blue Testament Predictions
Lineup: Melia, Zusi, Opara, Besler, Sinovic, Ilie, Espinoza, Medranda, Daniel Salloi, Khiry Shelton, Johnny Russell
Score: 2-0 Sporting KC because it’s what I want to happen