Sporting Kansas City-Rapids Preview
The Colorado Rapids are eager to prove a dismal 2018 is a thing of the past. Opening this season without a win in three matches certainly wouldn't be the way to go about that.
Colorado seeks its first win of the year and continued home success against Sporting KC on Sunday night.
After rallying late for a 3-3 draw against visiting Portland in its frigid season opener, Colorado allowed two goals in the first eight minutes Saturday in a 2-0 loss at Seattle.
"It really killed us in the first 15 or 20 minutes," Rapids coach Anthony Hudson said. "Beyond that, it was the basics: They were first to the second balls, and they were just a lot more aggressive in that period."
Tim Howard has allowed five goals in the season's first two matches, tied for second-most in the league, but he has never lost a home match to SKC, going 3-0-3 while yielding four goals.
Colorado is hopeful of erasing the memory of last season's 8-19-7 record, but a loss in this match would drop it to 0-2-1 for the franchise's worst start since 2013.
"It boils down to us competing better at the beginning of the game," defender Keegan Rosenberry said. "And us playing as a group better and being more aggressive and sticking to our game plan and focusing on the little things."
Rapids forward Diego Rubio will play his first game against his former team after he totaled 17 goals in three seasons for Sporting.
"We don't want to lose two games in a row," said Rubio, who was acquired in a December trade. "What I said before the season, I think we need to win every game in our stadium."
Colorado is 6-2-1 in its last nine matchups with Sporting, and has allowed just three goals during a 4-0-1 home streak in the series. The most recent meeting, however, resulted in a 1-0 victory for SKC on May 5, as Daniel Salloi scored in support of Tim Melia's shutout.
Sporting enters this match after advancing to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals with a 3-0 win over Independiente on Thursday. Krisztian Nemeth scored twice and Roger Espinoza also tallied for SKC, which had a 28-3 shots advantage.
The victory kept alive the possibility of a team outside Mexico winning the Champions League for the first time since the competition's modern era began in 2008. Sporting's semifinal series with Monterrey begins April 2.
"We go game by game. We have a lot of games. Now we have to prepare for the weekend," Nemeth said.
The news, however, wasn't all good for SKC, as Salloi left in the 21st minute after rolling his ankle during an awkward encounter with two defenders.
Sporting will be playing its sixth match in 18 days following a 2-0 victory over Philadelphia on Sunday. Ilie Sanchez scored on a penalty kick in the 11th minute and Tim Melia saved a penalty kick en route to his 41st career shutout.
Melia is 3-7-1 lifetime against Colorado, but has allowed six goals in his last six meetings.
Updated March 15, 2019