The Colorado Rapids have had one of the Rockiest roads to the MLS playoffs, pun intended. The pandemic was not kind to the Rapids as it plagued the team with positive test results not once but twice during their season. The gang was really starting to fire on all cylinders in September before another mandatory quarantine that was eventually extended after being initiated, brought the competition to a halt for the Blue and Burgundy.
In fact, the Rapids are five games back from the majority of MLS teams yet were still able to make the playoffs! The spark plug in the midfield, sticking with engine analogies, is without a doubt young Cole Bassett. The 19 year old, now in his third year of his professional career, has been the playmaker many believed Kellyn Acosta would be when he made the move to Colorado.
Acosta still sports the #10 jersey but now is contributing in other ways doing a lot of the “dirty work” in a deeper lying midfield position at the #6 role. Even starting that deep on the pitch he has continued to get into the attack playing box to box. However, it is the young homegrown Bassett that finds himself in a traditional #10 role playing provider mostly but also willing and able to score when the opportunity presents itself. He enters the MLS playoffs for the first time in his young career with a team leading 5 goals and 5 assists in 14 appearances. Stats speak for themselves, but what also needs to be pointed out about Bassett is we just don’t know how high his ceiling is?
He exhibits a rather high soccer IQ for his age and continues to grow with every outing. If you have read my earlier piece I praised Bassett but was concerned about depth in the CAM role. Not concerned about Bassett or his play but in the unfortunate event of an injury. However, the man in jersey number 26 has proven to be hardy, sturdy, and free of injury this season. He has proven to be reliable and mentally tough. He makes up one of a trio of goalscorers leading his team. The other two are the usual subjects in striker Andre Shinyashiyi and Diego Rubio with 4 and 3 goals respectively.
Rapid fans happy with the team’s performance as the goals are coming from contributors all over the pitch but we are on edge waiting on one of these strikers to have a multi goal game! Rubio has the potential and did so earlier in the season against RSL in an eventual 5-0 rout.
Sunday’s game against Minnesota United could be the beginning of a deep run for Robin Fraser and company. When looking at the numbers, goals for and against are almost the same for both teams but Minnesota has played three more games than Colorado.
Minnesota United leads the way in most cautionable offenses and 61 more fouls total. Not surprising as Minnesota defense has been talked about and touted by MLS commentators since the early goings. While they do have a formidable defense with Ike Opara and company, the Rapids aren’t pushovers in the back!
Notable MLS veterans like Keegan Rosenberry, Lalas Abubakar who has held down the center back position throughout the season, and guidance from Drew Moor and Steven Beitashour. Fraser also has some depth in the back with players like Auston Trusty and Sam Vines cycling in as well. William Yarbough continues to show why he was capped with the USMNT during the Klinsmann era as he continues to be a trusty backstop as he displayed throughout the later part of the season including their final league game against the Houston Dynamo.
I am sure that Minnesota fans will cite the fact that Minnesota was victorious in the last matchup October 28th 2-1. What I will point out is this is soccer, football. It is very difficult to beat someone twice in a very short span of time! Also, Minnesota is looking for their first postseason win ever. Might not mean that much but Colorado has missed the playoffs multiple seasons so they too will be very hungry!
Fraser knows a little bit about the playoffs and has been in the MLS for sometime, you can count on the gaffer to have a solid game plan. I am hoping we will see a burgundy wave sweep the nation and came out of nowhere to win the MLS Cup!
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