One of the surprising teams this year has been the Colorado Rapids, who have managed to stick around the top of the Western Conference despite a relatively modest payroll. The Sounders will visit Colorado for the second time this year on Wednesday, with the two teams tying 1-1 in the previous meeting on July 4.
Benezet gets chance to celebrate
Nicolas Benezet is not the kind of player to hide his emotions. So it was perhaps unsurprising that he was open about his motivations for tonight’s game and how he’d react if he scored against his former team: “I would celebrate for sure,” he told MLSsoccer.com. “I can’t wait to play in that stadium in front of my ex-fans and in front of the guy who didn’t believe in me. So, I can’t wait.” As if his play wasn’t enough reason to give him a shot at starting tonight, this seems to seal it.
Short rest, good results
This will be the 15th time this year that the Sounders have played on four days’ of rest or less — literally half of their games — but so far that hasn’t been a bad thing. The Sounders are 10-2-2 in games on short rest, which includes a 6-1-0 record on the road. The Rapids, it should be said, aren’t too bad on short rest either, going 6-3-2 in such matches. Notably, the last time these teams played both were on short rest and the Sounders won at home, 3-0.
Control the emotions
Speaking of that last meeting, the Rapids are probably looking for a bit of revenge. The Sounders started fast with a couple goals inside the first 15 minutes, added a third just before halftime and would have had a fourth right after halftime if it hadn’t been disallowed by VAR. From that point forward, though, the Rapids looked dead-set on not getting embarrassed and played like a team that couldn’t wait to get another shot at the Sounders. I have a feeling one of the keys in this one will be weathering whatever early storm the Rapids can muster.
Thanks to Colorado falling to Real Salt Lake on the weekend, the stakes in this game aren’t quite as high as they looked like they might be after the Sounders lost to the Dynamo. Still, the Sounders can make the rest of the season a lot less stressful by taking care of business and creating some real space between them and the Rapids. Not only that, but a win would also clinch a top 4 spot in the Western Conference, which would at least guarantee a home playoff game.
Watch out for Barrios
Michael Barrios may only have two career goals against the Sounders, but it sure feels like a lot more than that. It seems like Barrios is a constant thorn in the Sounders’ side and he’s actually in the midst of an outstanding year right now. His eight goals are the second most he’s ever scored in a season and the most he’s had since scoring nine in 2016. He might not look imposing, but he’s a handful coming off the wing.