Colorado got things started off on the right foot on opening weekend with a come-from-behind win over D.C. United on the road. What impressed you most in that opening win last week?
Abbie Lang: I went out to LA for a couple of preseason matches and saw that the team was coming together, but Head Coach Robin Fraser mentioned over and over how important focus and concentration would be for this squad. I think we saw that against D.C. The guys came back to tie and then win in the last seconds of the game, which shows that they have the potential to pull it together and win a game on the road, which is exactly what we were hoping to see.
I also think many fans appreciated that Fraser subbed in three attacking players, when the easy option would’ve been to bunker down and defend for the draw. Fraser is the first solid coach the Rapids have had in some time and I trust that he knows what he’s doing.
Based on what you’ve seen from this team (in an admittedly small sample size) what area of the squad has the biggest question mark(s) for 2020?
AL: I am confident that Clint Irwin is still a solid goalkeeper, but he hasn’t played a full season since he left the Rapids in 2016. Our backup is also a good goalkeeper, but doesn’t have any MLS minutes, so that’s a potential area for concern.
What does Colorado need to do in order to win this game? What will the recipe for success be?
AL: They need to stay focused and work together, which is what you could say about any team I’m sure. For the Rapids, in particular, they have a decent roster with some talent so it’s a matter of taking advantage of space, finishing opportunities, and getting everyone involved.
For example, Kellyn Acosta had a great preseason, but was invisible most of the first half against D.C. He got more involved and had a couple of shots in the second half, but we need to see more consistency from him. Another example: Sam Nicholson offers a ton of speed up the right side, but has had some problems finishing. We could see Jonathan Lewis starting there this weekend, but if Nicholson wants to be the regular starter, he needs to fine-tune some things.
Are there any injuries or suspensions that will keep players unavailable for selection? What’s your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
AL: Nicolas Benezet broke his nose in preseason but he should be available for this one.
Projected Starting XI: Clint Irwin; Keegan Rosenberry, Lalas Abubakar, Drew Moor, Sam Vines; Younes Namli, Jack Price, Kellyn Acosta; Sam Nicholson, Kei Kamara, Nicolas Benezet
Predicted score: Rapids 3, Orlando 0.
Thanks again to Abbie for the update on the Rapids.