The Colorado Rapids could see their good form rewarded with a playoff spot if they beat the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night. A tight playoff race has developed over the past several weeks in Major League Soccer with the top five teams only separated by four points.
A win for the Rapids and a loss or tie for the Vancouver Whitecaps would clinch a playoff spot for Colorado with two games remaining, while a loss would allow San Jose to jump up to only one point behind the Rapids.
The Rapids are coming off a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders this past weekend. The players will be on a high and have plenty of confidence going into the away fixture in California. If the Rapids continue to play the way they did against Seattle, they will be a hard team to beat going into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, three of the Rapids’ playmakers will miss out on the trip to San Jose. Designated player Gabriel Torres and rookie Deshorn Brown were called up to their respective national teams, while rookie Dillon Powers has a concussion. These players will be missed, but the Rapids’ bench is deep enough to handle the task.
Vicente Sanchez will likely be the Rapids’ most influential player in the midfield, recording four assists in five games so far, and Edson Buddle will probably get the nod at forward in Brown’s absence. Both of these players are capable of creating chances on their own and will probably torment the San Jose defense all night.
San Jose is also missing some players due to injury or international duty, but will be well rested after a bye week. Their offense has struggled recently, but striker Chris Wondolowski will be an ever-present threat up top that the Rapids defense will have to contend with. If their defense can continue its impressive form, the Rapids shouldn’t have any problems taking care of San Jose.
The possibility of making the playoffs tonight will have all of the Rapids players ready to fire on all cylinders. Both sides will be without some key players, but I believe the Rapids have enough talent to take all three points. Although I doubt Colorado will replicate their demolition of Seattle, they will likely handle San Jose with few problems.
I expect to see a good performance from the midfield and defense and would not be surprised if Buddle gets at least one goal.