Storylines is back and feeling good, not great, after Sunday’s matinee with the Seattle Sounders. Getting a point in the standings against a traditionally tough matchup for the Loons? That’s good. Getting three points in the standings against a traditionally tough opponent that just so happens to be struggling in their recent run of form? That would have been great. While the opportunity to escalate the Sounders’ slump would have certainly continued building the momentum the Loons have built since Leagues Cup, there’s no need to hit any panic buttons. Seattle is a better team than their recent run of form would indicate. And taking a point from a team that’s currently sitting in third in the Western Conference is nothing to scoff at.
In comparison to Seattle, the Colorado Rapids are a squad that has embodied the definition of “struggle” throughout their 2023 campaign. The Loons’ opponent for this Wednesday finds itself in the basement of the Western Conference, with just three wins total on the season. And, their woes go beyond their record, as they come into their match with the Loons without starting goalkeeper William Yarbrough, as he will be sidelined for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus. If their last match was any indication, a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of LAFC, Yarbrough will be sorely missed by Colorado.
However, for the sake of the Loons, they will have to focus less on who’s not suiting up for the Rapids, and more so on their recent addition to the roster. That would be striker Rafael Navarro, their Designated Player acquisition, currently on loan with an option to make the permanent move from Palmeiras of Serie A in Brazil. Despite the poor end result against LAFC, he showed flashes in his Saturday debut that he could be a bit of a bright spot in the Rapids lineup. The striker may be just getting acclimated to his new team, and the Loons would be wise to spotlight the striker when they meet Wednesday. Navarro is an aggressive player that plays with pace and won’t hesitate to run down Loons defenders to challenge for the ball.
Not only is Navarro a player with end-to-end effectiveness, he is known for creating quality scoring opportunities in dangerous spots for his fellow attackers. That’s something that could prove to be problematic for the Loons’ defensive efforts if Colorado is able to spread them out. While the Loons were able to bend without breaking on Sunday, had the Sounders put a few more accurate attempts on goal, the boys may not have left with any points to show in the standings.
Regardless of where Colorado sits in the standings, having Navarro in tow could bring an element of surprise to the match on Wednesday night. Add in the fact that the Rapids would likely relish the chance to play spoiler to a fellow Western Conference foe, and you’ve a recipe for a trap game the Black and Blue can’t afford to drop. Hopefully, the Loons will have done their homework on Colorado’s new striker and bounce back with a home win and keep any sort of Colorado shenanigans under wraps.
Minnesota United FC vs. Colorado Rapids
08.30.2023 | MLS Matchday No. 29 | MLS Game 25
Allianz Field | St. Paul, MN | Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. CT
Watch: AppleTV - MLS Season Pass - Free