(Editorial) – With Jurgen Klinsmann announcing his 26-Man Roster for the upcoming U.S. Men’s National Team matches. With this, five total call ups leave the Colorado Rapids shorthanded. They will be without Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones, Shkelzen Gashi, Marco Pappa, and Mekeil Williams for their match at New England Revolution on Saturday, September 3rd. What do the Rapids do? Let’s break it down.
Preview: International Call Ups Leave Rapids Shorthanded at New England
First off, each one of these players has earned and deserved these call ups. Jones has proven with both the Rapids and the USMNT in the Copa America Centenario that he’s still got it. Howard has kept Colorado in games, including last Friday at Real Salt Lake. Gashi only has five goals in league play, but he continues to be dangerous from to the top of the box for the Rapids and the Albanian National Team.
Pappa of course is a crucial chance creator for Guatemala, who are on the outside looking in. Meanwhile, Williams is one of just four MLS players called up for Trinidad and Tobago. He hasn’t been spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, but he has been serviceable. His time with his national team will help him continue to grow as a player.
It is unlucky for the Rapids that right as Jones is ready to play again, he’s called.
Shorthanded In The Midfield
The biggest holes for the Rapids will be in the front midfield of their 4-2-3-1. Head coach Pablo Mastroeni will be without three veteran starter-level players. His primary back ups may also be unavailable. Dillon Serna is out for the season with a knee injury. Dillon Powers has started three games in a row as a holding midfielder next to Sam Cronin.
With all these call ups, Mastroeni could move Powers up to the No. 10 role. If so, Michael Azira would likely return to the starting lineup. There aren’t any worries there as Cronin and Azira have been excellent together this season.
It is likely that Dominique Badji is on one of the wings in the midfield, having started three of the last four games. Marlon Hairston is on a great run of form, but was not in the lineup last game due to an injury.
It will be huge if Hairston recovers and is able start. Sebastian Le Toux could start as well if healthy, given the service he’ll provide Kevin Doyle. Le Toux is also very familiar with the Revolution, having played several years in the Eastern Conference.
If Le Toux and Hairston can’t play, it’s anyone’s guess who starts in the midfield. No other available midfielder has played a minute in league play this season. Zach Pfeffer might make his Rapids debut.
Other Less Concerning Holes To Fill
Williams has started 16 games this season but hasn’t played in the month of August. Marc Burch is quietly having a good season and will probably start at left back the rest of the year. Eric Miller has had some good moments of late at right back. Both contribute to the attack. Neither is a defensive liability. There’s a reason the Rapids have the best defense in the league this year (only 22 goals against).
Obviously Zac MacMath isn’t Howard, but he wasn’t having a bad year prior to Howard’s arrival. He’s still made some mistakes as a 25-year-old keeper. Aside from that, he’s serviceable. He’ll need to be confident off his line against striker Kei Kamara.
These are two vacancies that should not be concerning for Mastroeni and his coaching staff.
The Opponent Is Vulnerable
The Revolution are a tire fire right now. They’ve been shut out in four straight games. They’ve won just two of their last eight games; both of those wins came against the Chicago Fire. While being known for their defense in the past, they have the worst defense in MLS this year. Their goal differential is -18.
Kamara and Lee Nguyen have not had good chemistry of late. If the Rapids defense can prevent them from creating some individual magic, they should be able to get a clean sheet in Foxborough.
This might be the perfect opponent considering the Rapids limited attacking weapons. Doyle will be expected to carry the load against the worst defense in MLS.
Still, this is a long road trip and the game will be on turf. You never want to be the team that lets a struggling team get off the snide. All things considered, until I see the starting lineup, this match feels like a 0-0 draw to me.