Colorado Rapids vs. Seattle Sounders | 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs Match Preview
COLORADO RAPIDS vs. SEATTLE SOUNDERS
2016 Western Conference Championship – Leg 2
Dick's Sporting Goods Park | Commerce City, Colorado
Sunday, November 27
4 pm ET (ESPN, ESPN Deportes | TSN2, RDS2 in Canada)
Seattle struck the first blow in the Western Conference Championship, but thanks to Kevin Doyle's 13th-minute away goal at CenturyLink field, the aggregate goals series remains finely poised after a 2-1 Sounders win on Tuesday night.
The Rapids will be returning to a venue at which they have not yet lost in 2016, but this time around a draw will not be good enough. A 1-0 win would be good enough for the goal-shy Rapids, but Seattle will be on the hunt for an away goal to cancel out Colorado's and make the Rapids' path to MLS Cup significantly more complicated.
- Scenarios: How Colorado, Seattle can advance to MLS Cup
- Sounders, Rapids discuss battle for Western supremacy | MLS Now
- Rapids mulling midfield options with Cronin suspended
- Sounders respect, but don't fear altitude in Colorado
- Doyle, Rapids bullish on chances of overturning series in second leg
- Which teams do MLSsoccer.com editors think will reach MLS Cup?
- Roldan brothers clash, in a sense, in Western Conference Championship
- Couch: Lesson learned - don't count out Colorado
- How will the Rapids replace unsung hero Cronin?
- Rapids look to outwork, outsmart Sounders in 2nd leg
- Roldan for USMNT? Sounders hope Arena is watching
- Sounders set for 2nd leg: "We just want to play"
- 10 things to know ahead of the 2nd leg
- Why is Dempsey not playing for the Sounders in the playoffs?
Colorado Rapids Snapshot:
- 2016 Regular Season Finish: West No. 2 seed (15-6-13 record, 58 pts / 11-0-6 home record)
- Current Form: L-W-L-D-L
- Strengths: Colorado have had a historically good year defensively and have continued to keep a sound backline in the playoffs. They are well-equipped to not concede, which is an important first step in advancing on Sunday, but not the decisive hurdle they have to clear.
- Weaknesses: While keeping goals out has been fairly straightforward for Colorado this year, scoring them has been a little trickier. Shkelzen Gashi is the team's leading goal threat, while the other forwards on the roster have contributed in fits and spurts. This Colorado team feels like a bunch of unlikely heroes waiting in the wings, but someone will need to step up.
- Injuries/Suspensions: Tim Howard (adductor) -- out; Dillon Serna (knee) -- out, Sam Cronin (suspension - yellow card accumulation) -- out
- Player to Watch: Jermaine Jones: The veteran midfielder is the man that gives the Rapids an extra gear, and his combative presence will be especially vital in the midfield with Sam Cronin sitting out due to yellow card accumulation. He's not really the goalscoring type, but he's also high up the list of players who could come up in the clutch for Colorado.
- Probable Starting XI: Zac MacMath; Eric Miller, Jared Watts, Axel Sjoberg, Marc Burch; Micheal Azira, Jermaine Jones; Sebastien Le Toux, Kevin Doyle, Shkelzen Gashi; Dominique Badji
Seattle Sounders Snapshot:
- 2016 Regular Season Finish: West No. 4 seed (14-14-6 record, 48 pts / 4-9-4 away record)
- Current Form: W-L-W-W-W
- Strengths: Once a weakness, Seattle can now count on a clean bill of health (save for Clint Dempsey) when they need it most. Andreas Ivanschitz and Alvaro Fernandez made their returns from injury off the bench in the first leg, which Jordan Morris recovered from a hamstring injury in time to start.
- Weaknesses: Few teams have really succeeded in shutting down Nicolas Lodeiro, but if they do Seattle will need a Plan B. They have a few potential candidates to help pick up the playmaking slack as the injury crisis lessens, but it's harder to imagine Seattle getting the goal or more they need if Lodeiro has an off night.
- Injuries/Suspensions: Clint Dempsey (irregular heartbeat) -- out; Oalex Anderson (right hamstring strain) -- questionable
- Player to Watch: Nicolas Lodeiro: The Sounders have been on a late-season tear thanks to the playmaking abilities of the Uruguay international, who arrived from Boca Juniors at the end of July. It is Lodeiro's feet that much of the Sounders' magic has come from and he could be instrumental in breaking down a stout Rapids backline on Sunday.
- Probable Starting XI: Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Roman Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan, Nicolas Lodeiro, Erik Friberg, Jordan Morris; Nelson Haedo Valdez
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Corey Parker
4th Official: Fotis Bazakos
Colorado vs. Seattle Head-to-Head
All-Time (19 meetings):
Seattle 14 wins, 35 goals • Colorado 3 wins, 20 goals • Ties 2
All-Time Playoff (2 Meetings):
Seattle 2 wins, 4 goals • Colorado 0 wins, 1 goal
All-Time in Colorado (9 meetings):
Colorado 3 wins, 14 goals • Seattle 5 wins, 15 goals • Ties 1
2016 Meetings (3 meetings):
COL 3, SEA 1 (April 23); SEA 0, COL 1 (May 21); SEA 2, COL 1 (Nov. 22)