Know your enemy! Each week we do a Q&A with our friends from around the SB Nation Soccer world to get some insight on their team from those who know them best.
The Boys in Blue suffered a rare home loss last weekend and will be looking to bounce back Saturday on the road at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. While New York remain injured AF, they get Major League Soccer’s worst team (by points) in the Colorado Rapids.
With us this week is Abbie Mood from Burgundy Wave to preview the match. Abbie touches on last week’s positive performance for Colorado, what New York should expect this week, and what she’s most looking forward to going into next season.
Q. Colorado turned around a four game losing streak last week by defeating a Houston Dynamo team that needs wins to stay in the playoff hunt. What improved for the Rapids and enabled the team to sneak out of BBVA Compass Stadium with the last minute win? What qualities do the team need to emulate to earn a result against NYC FC this weekend?
A: Interestingly enough, they went back to PabloBall. After firing Pablo Mastroeni, interim head coach Steve Cooke tried some new things that failed miserably. In the game against Houston, the Rapids went back to a 4-2-3-1, kicked a bunch of long balls/tried to take advantage of counterattack opportunities, and locked in on defense. They also gave Houston the majority of possession and the Dynamo didn't really know what to do with it.
The good thing about playing NYCFC at home is that after a confidence-boosting win, Dick's Sporting Goods Park can be a tough place for visitors to win. That being said, NYCFC is a great team and it won't be easy to beat them, especially if Cooke tries to change things up again. Consistency has been a big issue this season, whether it was due to injuries or coaching changes.
Q. New York only gets to see Colorado once a year, so some general questions about the team are in order. Who are the players to watch for on the Rapids and what kind of style of play should we expect to see Saturday?
A: I'm not sure what to expect as far as style of play goes to be honest. The Rapids tend to feel more comfortable and take more chances at home, but when they tried that in the last few games on the road, they leaked goals. They may stick with a 4-2-3-1 for the rest of the season and just grind it out. The emphasis is on them being more offensive-minded, but they haven't quite figured out how to do that yet.
As far as players to watch, we're pretty excited about new acquisition Stefan Aigner. He has yet to start a match but he came in last week and made a significant difference, so we're all hoping he starts this week. He could be our right-footed free kick taker and he can cross balls in on a dime. If he can work together with Shkelzen Gashi on the other wing, they could be a dangerous duo. Unfortunately, Gashi hasn't done much this year.
Mohammed Saeid is another newcomer to the team this year and he has done a nice job of managing the midfield and connecting passes. We still don't have a real 10, but if we could get Mo, Gashi, and Aigner to work it in the midfield/up top, we could have a dangerous attack.
Q. Let's try and keep it positive with our questions - In a lost season for the Rapids, what have been the bright spots for the team this season? What are you hoping to see as the season comes to a finish that will give you some hope that things will turn around in 2018?
A: That's a really good question. I think for many fans, some recent changes and discussion from the Front Office has actually shown them that the Rapids are actually working on turning things around and moving in a different direction.
For me, a big positive has been finally getting a player that has almost always been out on loan off the payroll and out of a DP slot. The Rapids are sitting on a ton of money and now we have an open DP slot, too. I expect a big signing in the off-season, which should make an impact on the 2018 season. I think we have many of the players in place to have a good team, we're just missing a couple key pieces.
I think because it's so rare to keep NYCFC from scoring, I'd love to see a tie, but it's also possible that NYC takes all three points on this one.
Thanks again to Abbie for answering our questions— be sure to check out the “reverse fixture” over at Burgundy Wave. Have your own take on the match? Let us hear it in the comments section!