The Wizards will play the Colorado Rapids twice in the span of three days. The first time on Saturday night and the second Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup.
The Rapids present a very unique challenge for the revamped Wizards: Two strong and skilled strikers. Of course, the Wizards speed in midfield will likely give Colorado a bigger challenge. During the 2009 campaign, these two "Midwest" clubs played twice with the Rapids winning 2-1 at home and drawing 0-0 in KC.
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The Rapids made a bunch of moves this offseason, importing Wells Thompson and Jeff Larentowicz from New England and Marvel Wynne from Toronto. But the most important acquisition probably won't factor into this week's game. Which is a shame, because I'm sure the fans might enjoy seeing Claudio Lopez (the one-time designated player for the Wizards) on the field at the CAB again.
Word is that Lopez' visa issue has been cleared up, but there is no word on whether he'll factor into either fixture against the Wizards. I'd put my money on Tuesday in the second half.
Meet the Dangermen
Strikers Omar Cummings and Connor Casey can inflict a lot of damage. As can winger Colin Clark when healthy. Casey should be the object of a lot of attention from both the fans and the referee (his game and his look resembles that of a UFC fighter). But I'd be the most afraid of Cummings, he can score from distant and has a deft first touch.
Best Look on the Team
Matt Pickens, goalkeeper. He's had thegrizzled mountain-man look
and now he's sporting thebass player for an Anthrax cover band look
Best Guess at Their Formation4-4-2: Withdrawn Defensive Midfielder
Biggest Question Marks
The midfield. Against any other team, I might pick out their defense as suspect. But they are weak against strong strikers, and KC relies on speed not strength. Kimura and Wynne should be able to use their speed to cancel out KC. But I expect the Wizards to overrun and overwhelm the Rapids in the middle of the field, specifically Mastroeni and Larentowicz. The Wizards "90 Minutes of Hell" approach should cause a lot of turnovers for a team that's not especially skilled at holding onto the ball. If the middle can't support the attack, Cummings and Casey are adrift up top.
Historical records are essentially meaningless. Teams change rosters, coaches, playing styles, etc. But the Rapids are an astonishing 3-15-4 in Kansas City all time. ... They squandered their home opener with a 2-2 draw with Chicago last week and managed to only net one goal against the weak Chivas defense to start the season. ... Jimmy Conrad and Matt Besler should have their hands full with Cummings and Casey. ... This should be Jimmy Nielsen's first real challenge in this league.
Video StuffRapids vs. Fire, video highlight package
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