It’s the end of the work week once again, and that means that I’m back again with this week’s Intelligence Report. Orlando City and the Colorado Rapids are both teams that haven’t had the best starts to 2019, and will certainly be looking to change that tomorrow night.
This week saw me head out to the Colorado wilderness and very nearly get mauled by a bear in my quest to speak with Abbie Lang, managing editor of SB Nation’s Burgundy Wave. Fortunately, my brush with death was not in vain and she was kind enough to bring all of us up to speed on this year’s Rapids team.
While Colorado has yet to taste victory this year, four of its first five opponents also made the playoffs last year, with the Rapids taking a point from two of those four games. Are you worried by the results so far or encouraged by the points taken from what’s honestly a pretty brutal opening stretch?
Abbie Lang: The Rapids definitely had a tough schedule in this first month, and you can’t really take much from the first couple of games. However, the 4-1 loss against Houston last weekend has knocked the wind out of some sails. Houston is a good team, but the Rapids should’ve been able to get three points against them here in Colorado. The entire game was a disaster and many people are putting the blame squarely on Head Coach Anthony Hudson’s shoulders.
One of the recurring themes in the Rapids’ games so far this year has been red cards, with the team picking up a total of three in its first five games. Given that the team only had five on the entire season last year (I think, please correct me if I’m wrong!) is discipline something that concerns you with the season still being so young?
AL: Another interesting point about the three red cards is that they were in each of the three home games the ‘Pids have played this year. I asked Hudson about the red cards and he believes it’s both a lack of focus and bad calls. He said he has seen players in other games do the same things the Rapids have done without getting a card, and I think I agree with him. That being said, they cannot keep going down to 10 men, even in the last minute or two of the game. They’ve got to be more disciplined in general.
What do you view as the strong point of this Rapids team through five games? Are there any players in particular who have really impressed you?
AL: A strong point for the 2019 squad is that we can actually generate an offensive attack and they’re scoring goals (not a ton, but they’re getting on the board). Excluding Houston, because no one really played all that well, Dillon Serna has been doing really well at left back. He hasn’t played there much in a few years, but Hudson put him there this season and he’s done well. The only issue is that if he gets pushed up too high, a player like Alberth Elis can absolutely burn him on the counter and then it’s all over.
Seventeen-year-old Homegrown Cole Bassett is still learning, but he’s been holding his own in the midfield as well. Kei Kamara is obviously a difference maker. He hustles and pitches in on both ends of the field, and even though he hasn’t scored a ton of goals (yet), I think he’s already had a significant impact on the offense.
Are there any injuries or suspensions that will keep players unavailable for selection this weekend? What’s your projected starting lineup and a score prediction?
AL: Center back Tommy Smith will be out thanks to the red card he earned in the 89th minute last weekend. Another potential starting center back, Kortne Ford, has been out since the preseason and I wouldn’t expect him to return for Orlando. Niki Jackson is also out with a hip injury, but I’m not sure that he would play anyway. Keegan Rosenberry dislocated his shoulder last weekend (but went back into the game). He was at practice but not fully playing with the rest of the team, so I’m not sure if he’ll be in or not.
Tim Howard; Keegan Rosenberry, Deklan Wynne, Axel Sjoberg, Dillon Serna; Benny Feilhaber, Jack Price, Nicolas Mezquida, Cole Bassett; Kei Kamara, Diego Rubio.
Predicted scoreline: 2-2.
Many thanks again to Abbie for the insight on the ‘Pids (a nickname that simply escapes me).