Here are three questions with Abbie Mood of Burgundy Wave before the second leg of the Western Conference semi-final.
After the match last Sunday, Bruce Arena talked about the altitude and how that comes in play for the second leg. How much of that is actually a factor, and how do the Rapids use the thin air to their advantage?
Altitude is for sure a factor. If nothing else, it makes running more difficult, even for fit athletes. Most teams that come here start to get noticeably tired about midway through the second half, which is probably why the Rapids have scored most of their home goals in the second half (14/20), 11 of those in the last 30 minutes. At the Rapids home opener vs. LA, Marco Pappa scored the game-winning goal in the last minutes of stoppage time, so you can't ever let your guard down when playing the Rapids at home.
Being down 1-0, how does Pablo Masteroni change his tactics? Jermaine Jones gets the start surely. What does this mean for the others in the starting XI?
While I think there's a decent chance that Jones will start, I wouldn't say it's 100% for sure. With Pablo, nothing is ever 100%. Even more so than Jones, I'm really hoping Marlon Hairston gets the start this week. No one is quite sure why he didn't start last week, and the Marlon Hariston/Dominique Badji combo has been so dangerous up top it would be silly to make that mistake twice in a row.
The team has also been quite successful at home, and I think the Rapids are counting on that home field advantage, with the altitude, the 12th man, and the unbeaten record.
My ideal starting XI would be: Howard; Miller, Watts, Sjoberg, Burch; Azira, Cronin; Hairston, Jones, Gashi; Badji
Both sides in leg one of the semi-finals played superb defense. How do the Rapids break down the Galaxy defense and get that goal to give them confidence?
The Rapids need to open up the LA defense and take advantage of Hairston and Badji's speed. That's another reason why we need Hairston to start - LA's defensive guys are big, but they aren't super fast. Factor in the altitude and LA is going to get worn out much quicker if they have to constantly chase our guys down.
If Pablo decides to start the same front line as last week, our best chance is going to be a goal off a set piece (or a lucky look).