Decision Day: LAFC Host Colorado Rapids in Season Finale

LAFC
CHESTER, PA — SEPTEMBER 14: Carlos Vela #10 of LAFC celebrates the goal to equalize the score in the 1st half of the Major League Soccer match between LAFC and Philadelphia Union. The match was held at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA on September 14, 2019, USA. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images).

Preview — Beer showers will fly and plumes of black smoke will fill The Banc before a ball is even kicked Sunday afternoon. The home fans will be in a celebratory mood when LAFC wrap up the season on Decision Day. An afternoon that will see the entire league kickoff at the same time, with playoff implications league-wide. While first place in each conference is set, every other spot is up for grabs.

MLS Decision Day sees LAFC host Rapids in late-season revenge game

For the Colorado Rapids, there is everything left to play for. While it may be an outside chance, they do have a shot at sneaking into the postseason. In addition to needing other teams to drop points, they will have to beat the league’s best, at home. However, the Rapids did get the best of the black and gold when they hosted them in late June, ending a then 10-match unbeaten run.

LAFC on the other hand, come into the match needing only the cherry on top of their incredible season. LA want to be remembered, forever. This weekend they will have the chance to re-write the record books. A win sets the record for most points earned in a season, and they do have an outside chance at most goals scored in a season. In addition to LAFC setting records, Carlos Vela can set the record for most goals scored in a single-season, needing just one goal to do it.

Resilient Rapids

Just when you thought they were out, the Rapids came fighting back into the picture. Winners of five of their last six matches, Colorado has given themselves a chance at the postseason. In addition to beating LAFC, the Rapids need FC Dallas to lose, and by several goals. Having toppled the MLS giants before, Colorado will draw on that as well as current momentum.

While most teams would be ripe for the taking with playoff positioning decided, LAFC have made it clear they want it all. Luckily, the Rapids know that LAFC will be feeding Vela early and often, trying to get him the record. If they can slow him down, they may be able to find themselves playing in late October.

Historic Home Side

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now just how dominant LAFC were this season. In truth, nobody would fault them if they trotted out the second team, played it safe, and took it easy for the 90 minutes. However, one, LAFC aren’t that type of team. Every time they step onto the pitch, they do so with the intent to flex, hard. Second, having locked up the first-round bye, they won’t have their first playoff match until late October.

MLS will pause the action for the October international break, meaning LAFC won’t take the field again until the 23rd or 24th of October. That means that head coach Bob Bradley will likely use Sunday to ensure the starting XI maintain their momentum. With records in grasp, expect LAFC to come out with just an added bit of motivation to put goals past the Rapids. This team doesn’t just want their name on the MLS Cup, they want it etched in the record books as well. Sunday, they can do just that.

Long Break Ahead

As previously mentioned, the MLS is pausing their action while the international break takes place. This means no team will be without their full squad come playoff time, barring injuries of course. Though, it’s doubtful those in the playoffs will risk themselves too much. In addition to the break, LAFC have the first-round bye, adding even more time in-between matches.

The positive, everyone will be fully rested, and ready to make the push for the MLS Cup. The negative, the team will likely be rusty at the most crucial moment. Given the chemistry running throughout this team, it shouldn’t take long for them to shake off any rust they develop, however, it is something to keep an eye on.

Prediction

For the Rapids, and a majority of the league, Decision Day is going to be the most stressful 90 minutes of the season. LAFC likely remain the only top team still with something to prove. While they have already seemingly won all the accolades, LA want more. They are hungry, and won’t just roll-over, for the Rapids to use as a pathway to the playoffs.

Add to it all, this is still the Rapids team that beat them 1-0 the last time they met. If there’s one thing this years LAFC team has shown, it’s that they enjoy serving up revenge. An absolutely rowdy home crowd and a motivated LAFC side will prove too much for the visiting Rapids. Expect Vela to not just break the record, but set the bar even further. The home side get the win, 4-1.

 

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