The Colorado Rapids are in need of a strong start to the second half of the season.
After an inconsistent opening four months, the club’s annual Fourth of July game against Austin FC (9-4-4, 31 points) on Monday night offers another opportunity to spark a turnaround.
The match marks the halfway point of the season for the Rapids, who host the Western Conference’s second-place team at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park starting at 7 p.m. The largest fireworks show in the state follows.
The Rapids (9-4-4, 19 points) sit in 12th place in the West, with just one win in their last five matches. Still, they are just four points out of the last playoff spot in the West and have plenty of time to move up the standings.
Rapids head coach Robin Fraser knows how good his team has been at home but will have to prove it against a talented Austin side.
“(The attitude) is really good. Based on the inconsistency of the first half of the season, I think one of our goals is to be more consistent,” Fraser told the media ahead of Monday’s game. “And with that consistency we will get more results. It’s really buckle down, work hard, do your job, work for each other and I feel like we’re in a good place there.”
Colorado could be without a few key figures, though. Goalkeeper William Yarbrough is listed as questionable but is unlikely to play after sustaining a concussion in a scary collision during last weekend’s 3-0 loss at Portland. Backup goalkeeper Clint Irwin (groin) and captain Jack Price (left calf) are also both listed as questionable.
Homegrown goalkeeper Abe Rodriguez, a 19-year-old Thornton native who came on in an emergency role last week to make his MLS debut, could get his first-career start on Monday.
“Just gotta keep working harder, man, it doesn’t stop here,” Rodriguez said on Friday. “You know you need to improve every day, see what we can do better, see how we can become better and help the team win.”
Transfer window opens July 7. It’s about to be a busy month for the Rapids front office as the MLS secondary transfer window opens up Thursday and runs through Aug. 4.
The Rapids historically have made notable moves in the summer window. That’s when Lucas Esteves and Mark-Anthony Kaye arrived last year, and Sam Vines was transferred to Royal Antwerp in Belgium. Tim Howard also arrived in the summer of 2016, while Braian Galván joined in July 2020.
The Rapids are already making moves as 27-year-old Sam Nicholson arrived from Bristol Rovers for a second stint in Colorado, while Nico Mezquida got a permanent move to Greek side Volos FC. Also, Auston Trusty’s loan deal is set to expire this month, and Monday could be his last home game before he heads off to Premier League side Arsenal FC.
Rapids general manager Pádraig Smith said the club will look to make moves and address the team’s needs in an effort to get back into the playoffs.
“We always look to improve, right? We always want to make sure that we’re using every opportunity, every mechanism that’s available to us to get better,” Smith said last week. “That’s something that will be no different in this window. I think it’s pretty clear: we’re not where we want to be at this stage. We’re below the playoff line right now and I think we’ve got a group right now that should be above the playoff line.
“… There’s no doubt in my mind we are not far away. We are a team capable of challenging and we’ve got to do everything to get back in that position.”