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Know Thy Enemy: Revolution at Rapids Interim Cup Edition
Clint Peay vs. Chris Little was not the coaching matchup anyone had in the cards two years ago.
The New England Revolution and Colorado Rapids have taken very different paths to get to their current interim head coaching situations.
We’ve documented the Bruce Arena saga over the past week, but on the field the Rapids have been in freefall for months, unable to score, unable to get results, and currently leading the Wooden Spoon table while the Revs are trying to hold on to at least a home playoff game in the East.
Two years ago Fraser and Arena had their teams at the top of their respective conferences and while both missed the playoffs last year, the Revs have at least recovered on the field. We’ll have to see if New England can get out of the quagmire of late equalizers they’ve been giving up to Western Conference foes recently.
The Rapids have just one win in their last fifteen games, and just 7 total points in that stretch thanks to a handful of 0-0 draws. Since June they’ve only scored twice, both against FC Dallas in their lone win on July 8th which eventually led to Fraser’s dismissal at the beginning of the month.
Colorado is already looking towards next year, but the Revs absolutely need all three points to make up for their late concessions. I don’t think New England will catch Cincinnati for the top of the East but they should have a larger cushion for second place right now than they do with Orland, Philly, and Columbus all within three points and the Union having a game in hand.
Here to break down the rocky on-field side of this odd little derby is Matt Pollard of Burgundy Wave. Be sure to head on over to their site for my answers to their questions.
1) The Robin Fraser era came to an end earlier this month, what is the overall feeling of his tenure with the Rapids and who is stepping into the technical area for you Saturday?
1. Colorado's issues go far beyond Robin Fraser. KSE isn't funding them to be competitive in MLS and has not been for years. This team isn't good enough. They're rightfully Wooden Spoon contenders. Make no mistake, Fraser's tactics and messaging had gotten stale. The intensity and fight was not there from the players. They regressed defensively. Chance creation has died down as well. Can't make excuses that you won the xG battle if you don't create chances. Those three road losses after the Leagues Cup break were bad. Fraser was becoming part of the problem.
In terms of his tenure, we'll always have 2021. Fraser was a steady hand and a very good problem solver. He was great for the locker room culture. He loved Denver, the club, and wanted to be here. The club had an amazing run under him from his arrival in 2019 through 2021. He's the second best coach in club history behind only Gary Smith.
Chris Little has stepped in as interim manager. Burgundy Wave spoke to him last Friday. He'll try to get the team back on track and bring a different voice and new energy to the team. The players and coaches are taking ownership of these final eight games.
2) One league win dating back to June and as far as I can tell, the two goals in that win against FC Dallas are the only two goals in that stretch as well...what happened to the offense?
2. The Rapids are so dependent on Diego Rubio. He's had five separate injuries that have limited him to 10 league appearances, one goal, three assists. They just don't create chances without him on the field. They also don't finish. Just 16 league goals on 27.06 xG. Kévin Cabral has been a bust. Jonathan Lewis has not been healthy. Cole Bassett is crestfallen. No one on this team is goal dangerous right now. We'll see if Little can solve that starting Saturday.
It should be said the summer signings are looking good. Andrew Gutman has been electric at left back. He's advancing possession and helping to create chances. Sidnei Tavares has been decent on the ball but hasn't done much in the final third. Rafael Navarro has been good at holdup play and created his own shots. He's just been starves of possession because of the team behind him.
3) How big of a rebuild are the Rapids looking at here and who is the team looking at as far as potential hires and is there a particular person you'd like to see leading Colorado next year?
3. Significant. There could be 10 changes between the current first team squad and the season opener next year. Diego Rubio's out of contract. There are team options on William Yarbrough and Jack Price. This team should look very different in six months.
There's no coaching rumors yet. They might kick the tires on some former MLS coaches and current top assistants. John Hackworth, Caleb Porter, and Gio Savarese should get a call. Hugo Pérez just got fired by El Salvador. He had them outperforming their talent deficit even though they couldn't score goals. He'd be my favorite. Does B.J. Callaghan have any interest in the club game? I could see Pádraig Smith going for an unconventional candidate from abroad.
Projected Lineup/Injuries/Score Predictions/Etc.
Injuries: Jack Price (Achilles) and William Yarbrough (meniscus) are for sure out. Alex Gersbach, Jonathan Lewis, and Diego Rubio have all had lower body injuries recently. They might be in doubt. Max Alves is still removed from team activities for an investigation into sports betting.
Score Prediction: Genuinely have no idea. Both teams have had a roller coaster of a month. I don't know where their heads are at. I could see 3-0 either way. I'll meet in the middle. Messy 2-2 draw.