It’s only May, but the Colorado Rapids will be facing Sporting Kansas City for a second and final time this regular season when they visit Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City on Saturday night.
And already, Rapids coach Anthony Hudson says he’s looking to SKC as a blueprint for the rebuilding of his own club.
Hudson was in only his second league game with the Rapids when he first encountered Kansas City in a dramatic 2-2 draw played on March 24 in Denver.
And although the Rapids are coming off consecutive defeats to Real Salt Lake and Orlando, neither of those sides have left Hudson with quite the same impression as Peter Vermes’ group.
“I have a huge amount of respect for, not only them as a team but the coach there, I’ve been so impressed,” Hudson said. “I look at some teams that have got superstars in the team and they’re really, really attacking and dangerous. SKC for me have got some class players, but I just love the mentality, the approach from the coach, all that sort of stuff.”
Of course, mentality is only part of winning. Having a healthy roster is another, and the Rapids are struggling in that department. Forward Shkelzen Gashi is again a question as he manages a groin injury, while defenders Kortne Ford and Marlon Hairston are out with knee injuries.
Vermes, meanwhile, saw his team go 3-0-1 in the four games after its 2-2, comeback draw against Colorado before losing 1-0 to New England last weekend.
Kansas City has its own injury woes, with news breaking earlier this week that midfielder Felipe Gutierrez would miss the next two to three months to recover from sports hernia surgery.
Gutierrez had scored five goals in his first six games, but Sporting have scored 10 times since. Johnny Russell has emerged as another threat and now matches Gutierrez’s five-goal total.
With his own team adopting a different look in Gutierrez’s absence, Vermes believes Colorado might also have evolved since the teams’ first meeting.
“It was a good thing for us to get a result, the comeback that we had at their place last time,” Vermes said. “I think this game is going to be a little different. We for sure feel that this is a game that’s going to be very intense. At the same time, I think we’ll be ready for it from the get go.”
—Field Level Media