Building KCI match preview: First-place Sporting heads to Colorado on Saturday
In an undeniable trend that dates back to early 2020, Sporting have developed a healthy habit of winning away from home. The Vermes men have five regular season road wins in 2021 and 10 in the past two years, the two most in MLS. Sporting have won their last three away games – tied for the club’s second longest regular-season streak since the dawn of Major League Soccer’s shootout era in 2000 – by beating second place Seattle, third place LA Galaxy and fifth place LAFC. Needless to say, they’ll be looking to add the fourth-place Rapids to that list on Saturday night.
In a year in which several Sporting players have consistently performed exceptionally well, the club’s lone MLS All-Star has arguably been the best of the group. The 25-year-old winger is in the midst of his best MLS season yet and leads the league with 15 combined goals (10) and assists (five). With Salloi’s goal and assist against LAFC on Wednesday, the Sporting KC Academy offspring have now scored or assisted in a remarkable 12 straight MLS games since May 16. The club’s talented local contingent have made MLS’s most successful attack this season for 16 of 33 goals and 11 of 29 assists.
Sporting’s offense received another blow in the arm earlier this week when Pulido, who missed a month of action due to the Mexican national team’s Gold Cup commitments, punctuated his comeback with the first goal against LAFC. The 30-year-old has 13 goals and six assists in 20 MLS starts over the past two seasons.
Rapids head coach Robin Fraser has done wonders since taking the helm in August 2019. Once a perennial cave dweller in the West, Colorado returned to the playoffs in 2020 and owns a regular season record of 21-12-7 since Fraser’s appointment. The Rapids are 5-0-2 in their last seven home games at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, scoring 15 goals and conceding five.
Colorado midfielders Jack Price and Michael Barrios are tied for second in MLS with three assists each, while goalie William Yarbrough is second in MLS for shutouts (seven) and goaltending wins (eight) . Defenders Auston Trusty and Keegan Rosenberry have also been ubiquitous elements for a side that are six points behind Sporting with two games short.