Colorado Rapids Double Game Week: Tough Road Tests Ahead

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April 9, 2017 - Midfielder Ilie Sanchez slide tackles the ball away from Midfielder Marlon Hairston (94) during the MLS match between Sporting Kansas City and the Colorado Rapids. Sunday April 9th, 2017 at Children's Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS. (Getty Images/Icon Sportswire)

Editorial (May 17, 2017) – The Colorado Rapids got a much needed win last weekend against the San Jose Earthquakes. The defense kept a clean sheet. The offense got back on track. Now the Rapids have two tough road games this week.

Colorado Rapids Double Game Week: Tough Road Tests Ahead

Pablo Mastroeni’s side start off tonight at Chicago Fire. They then travel on to play the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

Wednesday At Chicago Fire:

As my colleague Robert Kerr wrote this week, this is a battle of two teams coming off big wins. Chicago got a signature win Saturday night in front of a sell out crowd. Both teams won their weekend match by a three goal difference.

The key here will be wing play. Shkelzen Gashi and Mohammed Saeid are starting to pick up their play. Marlon Hairston made an impressive return to the right back position on Saturday. San Jose don’t have as much pace on the wings though. The Fire have David Accam, who will likely lineup on the Gashi/Hairston side of the field. That should keep these two a bit more honest.

How will this affect the Rapids attack? Will Hairston or a Mekeil Williams be able to defend Accam one-on-one? The answers to these questions will probably decide the match.

Saturday At Philadelphia Union:

MLS teams playing on the road for a third game in eight days don’t have much success. The Rapids and Union were both in the dumps a month ago. Now they’re both coming off wins and the Union have won their last two matches by a combined 7-0 scoreline.

Striker C.J. Sapong has seven goals on seven starts this year, including a hat trick against the New York Red Bulls. They’ll have battled Nemanja Nikolić midweek, and Sapong could be just as dangerous given how well he’s been playing at home.

The Rapids defense has held serve against good forward earlier in this season: Opening weekend against Juan Agudelo, a few weeks ago against Cyle Larin, and last weekend against Chris Wondolowski. They’ll have to be on their A game this weekend.

On the other side of the field, the Union have kept three straight clean sheets. Given it’s a double game week, we could see Mastroeni switch things up at forward. The Rapids have just one road goal this year in four games, a PK at Sporting KC. Gashi’s performance this week will be critical to they are going to change that.

Alan Gordon’s physicality and speed from Dominique Badji could also be factors against a resurgent Union defense. We’ll have to see how Mastroeni changes his lineup with the travel and short rest. It’s going to be a real #KeepFighting and #NextManUp kind of week for the Pids.

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