The Colorado Rapids go in search of their first ever Supporter’s Shield on Sunday evening. Can they get the result they need to give themselves a chance, or will the visiting LAFC side spoil the party?
For the second time this season, The Rapids and LAFC will lock horns. Back in May, at Banc of California Stadium, the Los Angeles boys came out on top by two goals to one.
Colorado Rapids – Hosts can top the table
The Rapids are on the verge of doing something that they’ve never done before. Yes, they need results to go their way, but win and they could be crowned as the Western Conference Supporter’s Shield.
Realistically, the pressure isn’t on for the hosts, who have enjoyed a successful campaign either way. Even if they don’t come out top of the west at the end of the regular season, they will be fighting for MLS Cup glory in the postseason.
As far as this fixture goes, Robin Fraser’s men should be feeling confident. They won last time out in front of a home crowd, beating Portland Timbers by two goals to nil, while they’ve not lost at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park since April.
Expected Line-Up: Nelson – Fuenmayor, Parker, Junqua – Hoffman, Carrasquilla, Corona, Lundqvist – Dorsey, Lassiter, Rodriguez.
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LAFC – Fighting for the play-offs
After a disappointing season by their standards, the visitors have the chance to feature in the postseason. With one game to go, they’re two points off the coveted top seven, so their fate isn’t in their own hands, but a win gives them a fighting chance of going beyond the regular campaign.
LAFC comes here off the back of some mixed results on the road. Bob Bradley’s men are unbeaten in three travelling matches, which is positive, but they’ve won only one of those three, and have won just two of their last ten away-day fixtures. Such a record doesn’t exactly bode well ahead of a trip to face one of the best home sides in the division.
Expected Line-Up: Blackman – Kim, Fall, Munillo, Ibeagha, Farfan – Blessing, Edwards, Palacios – Arango, Rodriguez.
Expert Pick #1 – Under 2.5 Goals @+130
A tense affair could be in store at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Both teams are fighting for something and both have reason to be somewhat tentative, at least to start with. Throw a recent lack of goals for both into the mix and ‘Under 2.5 Goals’ starts to look rather appealing at the current odds.
The hosts are one of the best teams in the east in terms of expected goals against, while they’re also the best in terms of goals against, conceding only 12 times in 16 home games. Moreover, three or more goals have been scored in just one of Colorado’s last six on their own patch. It’s not as if the goals have been coming in large supply for LAFC on the road either, with three of their last five containing less than three goals. Interestingly, the visitors have only scored more than one goal in three of their 16 travelling fixtures, meaning that it would be little surprise if a relatively low-scoring affair unfolded on this occasion.
Expert Pick #2 – Both Teams to Score – No @+155
On a similar theme, betting on at least one team to falter offensively offers some value. The hosts have kept no shortage of clean sheets at home recently, shutting out three of their last four visitors, while they’ve not exactly been excessive in terms of what they’ve produced offensively, scoring more than once in just two of their last six. The Rapids have also given very little away of late, conceding an average of just 0.62 expected goals in their last five at home.
Expert Pick #3 – LAFC to Score Under 0.5 Goals @+3300
For those who want to be a little more adventurous, taking the visitors to misfire completely probably isn’t the worst option. As touched on above, Bradley’s men haven’t exactly been in flying form offensively on the road this season, while the hosts know how to keep teams quiet. Seven of the teams that have visited the Centennial State this season have returned without scoring.
With the pressure on both teams to get a favourable result, there’s likely to be no shortage of tension Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, which could lend itself to a low-scoring affair. After all, the Rapids have kept things very tight on their own patch this season, especially in recent weeks, so a lack of goals is favoured in the betting.