Colorado Rapids ready for test against the New York Red Bulls high press

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HARRISON, NJ - MAY 05: New York Red Bulls Head Coach Jesse Marsch talks with New York City midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) during the second half of the Major League Soccer game between New York City and the New York Red Bulls on May 5, 2018, at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (May 12, 2018) – The Colorado Rapids lost last weekend to Sporting KC, with Sporting’s high press style playing a major factor. Today the Rapids are hosting New York Red Bulls, who have possibly the best high press in Major League Soccer.

Colorado Rapids ready for a test against the New York Red Bulls high press

As I wrote about earlier this week, the Rapids did not handle Sporting’s pressure and rotations well. The spacing (especially from the wing backs) didn’t allow them to pass out of pressure when Sporting closed in. They didn’t move the ball well enough upfield to ultimately start the attack.

That led to backpasses and sideways movement that ultimately allowed Sporting to pounce, create turnovers, and create danger from those turnovers.

“I haven’t seen a team press us like SKC did on Saturday. They were aggressive, they were tight. New York is very similar. [They’re] incredibly good in transition,” Rapids Manager Anthony Hudson told Last Word on Soccer.

The Rapids have worked on buildup play all week, both when they (the first team) have the ball and the opponent (the second team) is playing the high press to get the ball back, and vice versa.

“We have our way of playing but we tweak that depending on who our opponent is. We’ll be ready for [New York],” said captain and goalkeeper Tim Howard. “It’s a different style of pressure that Red Bull uses. The second it turns over, they flood your half. It’s all in.”

If the Rapids can be better in their buildup play, then they’ll be able to control the pace of the game. At altitude, the Red Bulls won’t be able to press the way they usually do for 90 minutes. While last week’s loss was a disappointing result, it was good practice for this weekend. Both Howard and Hudson see exposable weaknesses in their opponents.

“They’re vulnerable in certain situations that we’re going to try and exploit. Try not to take too much time on the ball. We want to move the ball quickly and catch them on the break,” said Howard.

“We’ve been a team that presses, we’re into that type of game. When you play that way, you understand the weakness to that way. There’s an Achille’s Heel,” said Hudson.

We’ll see if Colorado Rapids can rebound and be better and more prepared against the New York Red Bulls high press.

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