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Colorado readies to face Columbus

August 4, 2011 | 9:58 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

When the Columbus Crew visited Colorado this past fall it was for a first-round playoff match that the Rapids won 1-0 on a Pablo Mastroeni goal.

While that win put the Rapids (8-6-10, 34 points) on the road to the MLS Cup title in 2010, the stakes are not much lower this Friday when the two teams meet at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Pablo Mastroeni (2nd to left) and teammates Wells Thompson (left), Marvell Wynne (#22) and Anthony Wallace (right), congratulate Mastroeni after he scores the only goal of the first playoff game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, Oct. 28, 2010. Colorado defeated Columbus 1-0. (Photograph by Jessica Taves/ColoradoSoccerNow.com)

The 7:30 p.m. match features a Rapids team that seems to be finding its form after losing star forward Conor Casey for the season, and a Crew squad that has managed to claw its way to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Columbus (9-6-7, 34 points) is riding two straight wins after defeating Portland Timbers at home 1-0 and shutting out Real Salt Lake 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Watching Columbus: Robbie Rogers was the man of the match against Salt Lake, handing out both assists on goals scored in the first 10 minutes.

Beyond the attack, the Crew defense is allowing less than a goal a game. The Crew has gone 3-1-1 in the past five games.

Watching Colorado: Sanna Nyassi has been the difference maker for Colorado. Since moving from midfield to forward, the Gambian has scored four goals in three games. He also drew a penalty that led to a fifth tally in that span.

Nyassi and Omar Cummings, who has assists on all four Nyassi tallies, have formed a striking tandem that is fast and lethal. Most of the damage those two have done has come by running straight into the center of the defense.

Erratic: Speaking of defense, the Rapids did just enough in getting by the Philadelphia Union 2-1 on July 29, but the backline has been erratic. The team needed a critical save from Matt Pickens to avoid a draw, despite being a man up for the final 25 minutes.

Colorado also surrendered two goals in drawing 2-2 with a 10-man Revolution side six days earlier. The Rapids, however, are also 3-1-1 in the team’s past five games

Sore Point: Colorado has given up four goals twice this season. Once was the 4-3 loss at Seattle, and the other was a 4-1 drowning at Columbus in June.

Kandji Sighting: Macoumba Kandji played in an intrasquad scrimmage this week and coach Gary Smith said Kandji may be on the game day roster for Friday. Kandji has been out since injuring his leg on the play that produced the winning goal in November’s MLS final.

Plus: This Friday’s match is also a Heineken Lads Night Out, where fans can get two tickets, two beers, two hot dogs and two T-shirts for $44. Tickets are available by calling 303-825-GOAL.

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