The Rapids have finished two-thirds of the season, they open the final third with possibly the toughest game remaining on their schedule until late October, a visit to Ohio to meet with the East's first place squad, the Columbus Crew. The Crew won the title two years ago and while they didn't repeat last season - instead getting knocked out in the first round by an upstart Real Salt Lake team that wound up winning the whole thing - they are still a hell of a force to be reckoned with.
Conor Casey will look to be getting his first start since that nagging head injury he suffered against the Sounders set him down for three games. He had a couple of minutes of play in the second half of the previous game against the Union and looked good. Colin Clark going down leaves a mystery at who will start at the left-midfield spot, with the most likely choices being last weeks starter Jamie Smith or Argentinian striker Claudio Lopez, who despite his talent has only seen small bits of relief play all season long. With the Rapids most likely needing a good chunk of offense if they want to pass Columbus, Lopez in the LM spot would make sense. Wells Thompson will most likely keep his position from last game on the right side.
The Rapids come into the contest with 28 points, one behind fourth place Seattle and five behind third place Dallas. With Dallas on a recent tear and not looking like they will slow down any time soon, the Rapids playoff hopes figure to work best if they can catch Seattle. With the two teams not facing each other again this season, the Rapids will need to start to get about a point or more per game for the rest of the season if they want to catch up, especially against the tougher clubs like Columbus.
Colorado and Columbus met earlier this season at The Dick, where a very late goal by defender Drew Moor wound up being the only score of the game as the Rapids pulled out a victory 1-0. If the Rapids can sweep the season as it were against the Crew, that would certainly put a feather into the proverbial cap of their playoff chances. Losing against East teams certainly won't sting as bad as a loss to someone closer in the standings, but a win is a win this late in the season.