COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – With seven games remaining in the 2018 regular season, Colorado Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson is feeling the pressure from both the media and fans.
“I sort of feel uncomfortable in these interviews because I’m probably not the most liked person in the place right now, and I understand why; it’s been a frustrating season,” Hudson told reporters earlier this week. “When I say what’s happening in the camp, I understand. If I’m a fan, I’m not really concerned about that. I want to see end product.”
Currently on a run of three-straight losses in which they’ve been outscored 10-0 by their opponents, the Rapids will host Supporters’ Shield contenders Atlanta United this Saturday. It marks Colorado’s first home match since a 6-0 thrashing by Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake two weeks ago. The devastating loss has served as motivation within the Rapids’ camp.
“[Atlanta] are a top team, but we’re at home,” Hudson said. “I think [the Salt Lake loss] alone, in our memory, coming back at home now is something. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Any combination of points gained by Seattle and points dropped by Colorado totaling five will mathematically eliminate Colorado from playoff contention. In short, wins by Atlanta and Seattle this weekend will end the Rapids 2018 playoff dream.
But the focus for the Rapids in training, and for the seven regular season matches that remain, will be about continuing to build a foundation, one that Hudson believes has been solid in the team’s past half dozen matches, the Salt Lake loss excepted.
“I know it’s not always visible externally, but one thing I can say for certain is we are building the team the right way,” Hudson said. “We’re only a few players away from being a really strong team.
“One thing I do know is the way we’re setting our stall out in terms of how we want to play, in terms of the style, I know it’s going to bring us a lot of success.”
Despite playing on a short week following his appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Mexico, Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta is expected to make his return to Colorado’s lineup on Saturday.
“I think so,” Hudson responded when asked about Acosta’s availability for Saturday. “I think he’ll want to play. I’m sure even if I said ‘no’, he’d be banging on my door wanting to play.”
The 23-year-old has made a positive impact since his arrival in Colorado with two goals and two assists in six appearances for the Rapids. As the team’s season edges toward its conclusion, Hudson explained there will be plenty of opportunity for other young players on the squad.
“I want to see a few of the younger players, not because I’ve written anything off, but because I believe they can do a job for us,” he said. “Certainly, we’ve got to keep building what we’re building.”
While the building process continues, the Rapids gaffer believes it’s all headed in the right direction.
“I feel now we’ve got a team and a squad of players that care and are really committed to the club,” said Hudson. “Us having that, we’re only going to move forward.”
Rapids Injury Report
Sam Nicholson – back
Niki Jackson – ankle
Jack McBean – toe
Axel Sjoberg – ankle
Jack Price – groin
Edgar Castillo – hamstring