Know Your Enemy: Colorado Rapids

Dealing with speed, creativity will be crucial vs. resurgent Rapids

Enemy: Colorado

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The month of June is here in Major League Soccer. FC Dallas begins a tricky month of play, as they’ll be on the road for three out of four games. Up first on Saturday evening is a trip to the Mile High City to face the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

The two clubs have already met once this season with FC Dallas coming out on top in that meeting back at the first weekend of the 2013 season. Jackson was able to capitalize on a Steward Ceus error to score the game’s lone goal in that match.

Colorado struggled shortly after that loss for a few weeks, but over the last two months Oscar Pareja’s squad has turned things around. Quietly, the Rapids have gone 5-1-2 in their last eight games.

The Rapids are coming off a 2-0 win over Chivas USA last weekend. They did, however, drop their third round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match on Tuesday in Florida to Orlando City, 3-1.

Injury Watch

Pareja has had a slew of injuries to deal with this season, but the two biggest have been with veteran 'keeper Matt Pickens (arm fracture) and creative attacking midfielder Diego Calderon (knee surgery).

Other players that have been out for Colorado include Jaime Castrillon (knee), Jaime Smith (groin strain) and Hendry Thomas (hamstring strain). Martin Rivero is also day-to-day with a foot injury.

Key Matchup

Pablo Mastroeni vs David Ferreira – Two veteran players squaring off in the middle of the park will highlight this game. Mastroeni’s health this season has been better, which has also been a reason why the Rapids are playing better. Ferreira will likely have to deal with Mastroeni’s physical style of defense each time he gets his feet on the ball.

Key Player for Colorado

Deshorn Brown – The rookie has been very strong this season. He leads the Rapids with two goals and four assists. His pace and trickery can be a bit much to handle as well. In the first meeting back in March, he caused a lot of problems out of the gate for the Dallas back four.  

Projected Lineup

Pareja has been shifting his formation around and lately has found success with a 4-2-3-1 formation, something Schellas Hyndman typically uses in Frisco.

GK: Clint Irwin; RB: Brian Mullan; CB: Marvell Wynne, Drew Moor; LB: Chris Klute; CM: Dillon Powers, Pablo Mastroeni; RM: Atiba Harris, AM: Nick LaBrocca; LM: Deshorn Brown; FW: Edson Buddle.

Keys to three points

Colorado has been much better over the last month of the season. Part of that is due to young players like Brown and Powers stepping up.

Pareja’s club plays with speed up front, which could give Dallas fits in the back. They also bring a fluid style of play from their midfield that helps create chances on the wings and up front.

Dallas has seen plenty of success this season from a wide position when they are on offense, and that idea doesn’t change a single bit against the Rapids. Colorado is a team that you can spread out and find passing lanes and good counter attacks against.

Defensively, Dallas will need to stay in check with the speed up front as Brown loves to find ways in and around the back line. If Dallas isn’t careful with its defensive shape and line, he could sneak in behind the defense on some through balls in a similar fashion to what Seattle did a couple weeks ago.

Dallas will need to play a complete game – a full 90 minutes – in this one if they want to leave with three points. They’ve had Colorado’s number before and if they play to their strengths, they’ll continue to do well against Pareja’s team.