Los Angeles FC-Rapids Preview
Los Angeles FC and the Colorado Rapids are at opposite ends of the Western Conference standings, yet each are riding an impressive MLS unbeaten stretch.
Playing its first league match in almost a month, MLS-leading LAFC looks to extend its unbeaten streak to nine games while the host Rapids aim to push theirs to seven in a row on Friday night.
In mid-May, this matchup might have been headed for a one-sided result in favor of L.A. (11-1-4), the league's most dominant side all season. Colorado (4-9-4), at the time, was 0-9-2 - the worst start in club history - and mired in an eight-game losing streak while also letting go of coach Anthony Hudson.
Times, however, have changed - at least for Colorado. While Los Angeles remains the class of MLS, the Rapids are 4-0-2 since that losing streak and will try to win a fourth consecutive home match on Friday.
"(It's an) underdog mentality," forward Andre Shinyashiki told the Rapids' official website. "Out-work the other team. That's what we do for now on. That's what's been working for us. It's not going to be any different just because (LAFC) is at the top of the table."
Shinyashiki scored his fourth goal of the season and Colorado's second over the first 20 minutes Saturday at Vancouver. However, the Rapids could not hold on to the 2-0 advantage and settled for a rather frustrating a 2-2 draw.
"I think we lacked a little bit of that killer mentality," Shinyashiki added.
The Rapids obviously can't afford any defensive lapses or lack of focus against LAFC, which leads MLS with 39 goals. With 16 of those goals, Carlos Vela is on an historic scoring pace, while L.A.'s 37 points put it well on schedule to top the Red Bulls' record of 71 regular-season points set last season.
Los Angeles is 5-0-3 since losing 1-0 at Vancouver on April 17, and has totaled seven goals in consecutive victories over Montreal and at Portland. The latter coming in its most recent MLS contest on June 1.
L.A. did win a pair of U.S. Open Cup matches since then to reach the final eight of that competition.
"I think these guys still enjoy the kind of football we try to play," coach Bob Bradley told LAFC's official website. "When they show up in training everyday ... training's fun. This package of (trying) to be sharper in every way never stops. I think that's helped us."
Los Angeles outscored Colorado 5-0 in 2018 while doing the double on the season series.
Updated June 26, 2019