We talked to our friend Abbie Mood of @BurgundyWave ahead of our meeting with the Colorado Rapids tomorrow night. Here’s what she had to say about her team.
1) After a super slow start to the season, the Rapids have now won their last four matches across all competitions. What's changed from the beginning of the season? Are the squad changes finally to pan out? Or has it been something else?
The Rapids have been struggling with injuries and suspensions for much of the season, which has resulted in frequent changes in lineups. There was also quite an adjustment to losing team captain Sam Cronin and starting defender Marc Burch, and integrating Mo Saeid and Josh Gatt into the team.
I think the recent success has been due to several factors: the team finally clicking and getting some consistency among starters, head coach Pablo Mastroeni finally switched to a 4-4-2 formation, and guys like rookie Kortne Ford have really stepped up. A four-game homestand doesn't hurt, either. Last season the Rapids were unbeaten at home in the regular season, and while we have lost a couple at Dick's Sporting Goods Park this year, the team still has a great amount of confidence in Commerce City.
The team has also figured out how to score and how to make a comeback, which is still a little confusing to some of us fans, but we aren't complaining. ;)
2) There's a lot of good, young talent on this Colorado roster. Who should Galaxy fans keep an eye on Wednesday night?
Most of our young talent are subs (Dillon Serna, Sam Hamilton, Caleb Calvert), but we have some guys in their early to mid-20s that are making an impact on the team.
But, if Pablo plays a similar lineup to Saturday, which is hard to determine because the Rapids have four games in 11 days, Kortne Ford at CB is a beast. He had some rough moments in his first couple games, but he has worked really hard and has earned the starting spot next to Axel Sjoberg.
Mike Da Fonte hasn't seen a ton of time, but if he does start against LA at left fullback, he's feisty and his crosses into the box are on point. I don't think he's going to start again, but if he does, he brings some aggression to that side.
Marlon Hairston is another one worth watching. He's been moved from right mid to right fullback, and while he's still learning the position, he brings a lot of speed up that right side. He gives us another attacking threat.
If Caleb Calvert gets the start, he's a guy that always gives 100% and never stops moving. He will go after the keeper; he'll take the shot; and even though he just earned his first MLS goal a couple games ago, he's definitely a threat when he has the ball.
3) Alan Gordon scored the game winning goal in the 89th minute against the Timbers (typical Gordo). How are the fans in Colorado taking to him?
I think there are a couple Gordo camps: the majority of fans love him, while the rest are still not quite convinced. Pablo started him a couple times (usually alternates Gordon with Kevin Doyle in DGW), and it's obvious that his talent and biggest threat is coming in as a super sub. Personally, I'm a fan of Gordo. He fit in with the team well and seems really comfortable with the Rapids.
Predicted Starting XI:
Ugh, this is tough with so many games in a short time frame. On any given day, Pablo could rest anyone, so here's my best guess:
Tim Howard; Eric Miller, Kortne Ford, Axel Sjoberg, Marlon Hairston; Mohammed Saeid, Michael Azira, Dillon Powers, Josh Gatt; Dominique Badji, Alan Gordon
We could also see Mekeil Williams come back into the lineup and push Hairston back up to midfield, which would make the midfield: Marlon Hairston, Mo Saeid, Michael Azira, Josh Gatt. We could see Kevin Doyle start again, but I think Pablo will rotate Gordon in. We could also see Caleb Calvert start in place of Badji. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯