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Rapids Gameday

Man, I've been busy. I think I've watched 5 soccer games this week. Not that that's a bad thing. Not that it ever could be. But this is good warmup for the World Cup, when I'll be trying to watch every single match. I've never done it before, but like the Sounders right now, I'm warming up.

The Sounders are in Colorado today for another quickie road trip. The game will be on KONG 6 at 6PM, with a Sounders pre-game show at 5:30 perfect for some evening pre-gaming. We could all use a return to fitness.

Official matchday card
And, of course, your cheat sheet
What we need to do to win
Only 18 traveled, too many out injured to list
Goal.com breaks it down nicely
Match to be officiated by Jair Marrufo

More preview goodies below.

So now that everyone's got back from their break after watching the USMNT beat Turkey, let's get back to that MLS action we all hate to love. Or love to hate, if your English, and oh, three players from MLS are going to tear you apart.

The Colorado Rapids have two games in hand, and they are sitting only one point ahead of us in the Western Conference standings. It'll be important to recreate what we did in New York two weeks ago if we're to climb into a comfortable spot before the World Cup break. After the Rapids, we've got two home games before the 2 weeks off, before we leave for a Philly and LA for a road trip.

Here are some of my pre-game thoughts:

1) We remember what it's like to score goals
Against Boca Juniors, our reserves and rookies found some form scoring some great goals, but our starters didn't. The game was only three nights ago, so the memory of it will still be fresh for everyone. Hopefully this can trigger some sort of brain wave reaction from our starters to rediscover the scoring form we had last year. It's OK Fredy, there's no need for you to feel embarrassed or ashamed that our rookies need to teach you how to score. Just go out and do it, and then come back and say it was reverse psychology on all of us, and you were just messing.

2) Defensive togetherness
Is togetherness a real word? I think so. If it isn't, we can make it one, after the great defensive showing by everyone against Boca. Hightlighted (literally) were the great netminding performances by Keller and Boss, and the good showing for Jeff Parke. There were a couple instances of the defense being a little uncoordinated, with Parke and Keller clashing a couple times. But it was his first Sounders game, and Keller had to command a rag tag impromptu defensive line. Though we are traveling without Taylor Graham, our lineup across the back will likely be Riley - Marshall - Wahl - Leo, judging from the club's gameday card. So if we can keep the back door as clean as we did on Wednesday, the least we can hope for is a boring 0-0 draw. Which would be good, considering Connor Casey, Omar Cummings, and Harvard rookie of the year Andre Akpan would like otherwise.

3) Make your heart smile, and your feet will show it
This sounds like something my old high school Spanish teacher would say. I think this is true for anyone playing soccer, but when you're in a rut it's one of the most important things to remember. Watching the guys play on the field is not that pretty sometimes, both in terms of watching the ball and the players' faces. Last week, Sigi has called out his players for getting so easily frustrated on the field and letting it get to their level of performance, particularly when a bad call has a big impact on how the game unfolds. Not that that's happened recently. Or ever.

But, as I may point out, in a meaningless game against Boca, the Sounders were able to bring it back to the basics without worrying about the scoreline or result. In fact, there was even a slightly bigger emphasis on giving the crowd a good night's entertainment. Rookies like Estrada and Montano answered this call, and took some risks with swerving shots and daring runs at the defense. However, in Denver, it's going to be too easy to get tunnel vision and focus only on scoring for the win. When that happens, things like having fun (and consequently taking GOOD risks) can quickly be replaced with frustration. I've seen it happen too many times at home, when the pressure was on the deliver a win. Hopefully the freedom of fresh air in Colorado and being away from home can lighten the guys up, both physically and mentally. Kind of like when you sometimes need a break from all the expectations and nagging orders of the people who run the house, that you just need some fresh air to remember why you love the expectations in the first place. I'm convinced that if we can maintain a good head, it can only bring good results.

Umm, let's go all out with a Fredy brace, 2-1.