The Pablo Mastroeni era is finally over for the Colorado Rapids, who went across the world to find their replacement in English manager Anthony Hudson. The former New Zealand boss has used his knowledge of the All Whites to bring in some Kiwi flair to Colorado, bringing in three members of the New Zealand national side this off-season. While the Mastroeni defensive mindset still has some holdover in the new regime, there are plenty of new faces wearing burgundy in 2018.
Orlando City will look to continue its unbeaten run both in the league and against the Rapids. Colorado is one of the few sides the Lions have yet to lose to since the club’s jump to Major League Soccer in 2015, with OCSC holding the series lead at 2-0-1.
Managing editor Abbie Lang of SB Nation’s Burgundy Wave took some time to drop some knowledge on this weekend’s home side from the Mile High City. I also answered some questions and you can find those over at their place.
How have the Rapids changed under new boss Anthony Hudson? What kind of playing style can we expect to see out of him this weekend at home?
Abbie Lang: The 2018 Rapids squad is very different than what we’ve seen in the past. Besides new head coach Anthony Hudson and several other new technical staff members, they’ve added a bunch of new players and Hudson runs a 3-5-2 formation. Historically, the Rapids have been known as a very defensive side, but this year they’re off to a good start with the attack, averaging 1.5 goals per game. The Rapids are getting more guys up and into the box, and wingback Edgar Castillo and midfielder Johan Blomberg have been clutch in their delivery, touch, and pace.
Colorado has had a reasonably strong start to 2018, earning results in four of their last five against some quality opposition. What has been the key to the team’s early success?
AL: The Rapids have really overhauled their entire system and way of thinking, and brought in some players that are solid footballers. Guys like the aforementioned Castillo (from Liga MX), Blomberg (from Sweden’s first division), and players with significant experience in the English Championship, like Jack Price and Joe Mason, have made a huge difference. When everyone is healthy, more than half of the starting lineup is new faces.
Hudson’s coaching style is also different than what we’ve seen in the past. Practices are more organized and focused on specific drills that directly translate to the game. He adapts and makes changes as needed throughout the game instead of sticking to his original plan no matter what. Hudson uses a formation that we haven’t seen in Colorado, and brought in players who fit into that system well.
What do you see as the key match-up in this game that could decide the outcome?
AL: Anytime Dom Dwyer is on the field, it’s a challenge to shut him down. If Axel Sjoberg plays, he’s familiar with Dwyer, but none of our other CBs have played against him before. On the other end, Dominique Badji has four goals in six games and if Joe Mason is back (he has two goals in three games), these two could be a challenge for OCSC’s defense.
What injuries/suspensions will keep players out this weekend and what is your projected lineup?
AL: Out due to injury: D - Kortne Ford (left MCL sprain), M - Marlon Hairston (knee surgery).
Out due to suspension: GK - Tim Howard (red card from last game).
Questionable: D - Danny Wilson, F - Joe Mason.
Zac MacMath; Deklan Wynne, Danny Wilson, Tommy Smith; Dillon Serna, Enzo Martinez, Jack Price, Johan Blomberg, Edgar Castillo; Dominique Badji, Joe Mason.
Thanks again to Abbie for fielding these questions about the ‘Pids.