COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Shortly after the Colorado Rapids land in Portland later this afternoon, all eyes will be on the United States men’s national team’s friendly against Brazil (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, UniMás and UDN).
They’ll be cheering on the team’s newest addition, Kellyn Acosta, who received his first international call-up since joining Colorado via trade in late July.
“We’re really proud of Kellyn,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson said this week. “We’re looking forward to seeing him play for the National Team.”
But heading into the team’s Western Conference clash with the Portland Timbers Saturday, the Rapids will be faced with the challenge of finding a suitable replacement for Acosta, who has sparked the team with two goals and two assists in six league starts for Colorado this season.
“It will be tough,” Rapids midfielder Jack Price said. “Kellyn is a good player and it will be a big job to get someone to fill his boots at the moment. He’s given us a lift. But we’re happy he’s with the National Team. It’s recognition of what he’s done for us so far.”
Despite having last week off from MLS play, Colorado used the bye week to schedule a friendly against USL side Tulsa in Memphis. Hudson used it as an opportunity to give valuable game minutes and experience to players who haven’t had consistent starts this season, as well as an evaluation point for the coaching staff.
“That’s why the friendly in Memphis was good, because we were able to give a few people some games,” Hudson explained. “Barnesy [Giles Barnes] is getting fitter, Gashi was able to get minutes and Enzo [Martinez] has settled into the squad.”
Despite losing 3-2 at home in their previous meeting with the Timbers back in May, those within the Rapids’ camp took confidence from the game, having outshot Portland 16-11 while holding just more than 50 percent of the game’s possession.
“We were the better team and played some really good stuff,” said Price. “That was a part of the season where we were playing really good football and we were unlucky to lose that game.”
Coming off back-to-back losses, in which they’ve been outscored 8-0, including an embarrassing 6-0 thrashing by Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake in their last league match, the Rapids are both eager and desperate to get results back in the win column.
“We’ve been looking forward to Portland for a long time,” said Rapids defender Kortne Ford. “Ever since the last game against RSL, we’ve been looking to get that taste out of our mouths and move on.”
With or without Kellyn Acosta, Hudson believes Colorado has the pieces in place to do it.
“I trust the way we’re playing and the players we have and it’s an opportunity for someone else,” he said. “I don’t see us having a dip in team performance.”
Rapids Injury Report
Axel Sjoberg – ankle
Niki Jackson – ankle (Jackson will be serving red card suspension against Portland)
Sam Nicholson – back
Yannick Boli – hamstring
Jack McBean – foot/toe
Jack Price – groin
Danny Wilson – neck