We will learn who the first participant in 2016’s MLS Cup will be this afternoon as the Colorado Rapids host the Seattle Sounders. The game kicks off at 4:00 p.m. and is live on ESPN.
Colorado has been to two MLS Cups, losing in 1997 and winning in 2010. Seattle has made the playoffs in each of their eight seasons in MLS, but they are still looking for their first trip to the final. They hold a 2-1 advantage on aggregate coming into today’s game.
Both teams are strong defensively, so do not expect a high scoring spectacle today. Rather, it will likely be closer to a fifteen round slugfest with both teams looking to avoid the knockout punch. The Rapids only need one goal to take the lead in the series, thanks to their vital away goal scored Tuesday night. The margin for error is slim for both teams.
Colorado’s Albanian international Shkelzen Gashi will be tasked with creating chances for both himself and his teammates. As the only true danger man, Seattle will have to account for him in every attack the Rapids make. Another player to keep an eye on for the Rapids is Sebastian Le Toux. The wily veteran is still dangerous and could take advantage of space created by the attention given to Gashi.
Seattle is sitting pretty with the lead and a team that can defend strongly. They will likely keep the outside backs Tyrone Mears and Joevin Jones at home more and look to counter through Nicolas Lodeiro. The Sounders will have to counter effectively to keep Colorado honest, they will not be able to survive a ninety minute siege on Stefan Frei’s goal. Jordan Morris’ runs off of Lodeiro could be the difference today as the Rapids cannot afford to give up a goal.
My prediction is that Seattle keeps this most unlikely dream season going after a 1-1 draw today and a 3-2 win on aggregate. It is so hard to shut down Lodeiro for ninety minutes, and missing Sam Cronin will make that task even more difficult. As strong as Colorado is defensively, I think Seattle will find a goal and make the hill too steep to climb for the Rapids.
Official preview of today’s Western Conference final second leg as Colorado hosts Seattle (MLS)
Colorado vs. Seattle will be a heavyweight fight (Burgundy Wave)
How will the Rapids replace Sam Cronin today? (Denver Post)
Seattle looking to play their brand of soccer today to get the needed result (Sounder at Heart)
Cristian Roldan ready to take the Sounders to MLS Cup for the first time (Seattle Times)
Bob Bradley says that Steven Gerrard’s MLS career will be the last of its kind (Mirror)
Robbie Keane “as hungry as ever” (ESPN)
Philadelphia chasing a Colombian striker (Brotherly Game)
More details on the Bill Edwards (Tampa Bay Rowdies) vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers lawsuit, NASL involved (Empire of Soccer)
Brendan Rodgers proposes the MLS calendar for Scotland (Sky Sports)
Bob Bradley gets his first Premier League win in a wild one (Stars and Stripes FC)
Confederations Cup draw announced (ESPN)
Chivas fans singing outside the team’s hotel ahead of the second leg of their quarterfinal series with America: