Photo Courtesy of Burgundy Wave Via Twitter @Burgundy wave
Written by Jerry Reynoso @Official_JR4
MLS Decision day has arrived! After settling for a 1-1 draw against Minnesota United in their final road match of the season, LAFC head back home for the season finale against the Colorado Rapids this Sunday. Colorado (12-6-15) are entering this match on a hot streak, winning four out of their five previous meetings while gathering a 1:2 Goals scored/Goals conceded ratio (12 goals scored 6 goals conceded). A win against the MLS league leaders, plus other fixture results from fellow conference foes are needed in order for them to punch their ticket into the playoffs.
Here are Colorado’s clinching scenarios, according to MLSSoccer.com:
Colorado will clinch a berth in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs if:
Colorado win vs. LAFC AND ...
FC Dallas lose vs. Sporting KC AND ...
San Jose lose vs. Portland
– OR –
Colorado win by 3 or more goals vs. LAFC AND ...
FC Dallas lose vs. Sporting KC AND ...
San Jose tie vs. Portland
If Colorado win by 2 goals, tiebreaker will be goals scored (COL: 57, SJ: 51)
Bob Bradley, Carlos Vela, and the Black and Gold are going for glory as they attempt to accomplish a couple of individual and team records against the Rapids. LAFC have the chance to break the record for most points in a single season, a record that is held and has been recently broken by the New York Red Bulls last year (71 points). Sitting at 69 points, the Black and Gold need a win so they can break the record by one with 72 points.
There is no “I” in team, so MLS Goal leader, Carlos Vela, is going to need some help from his teammates in order to accomplish a couple of scoring accolades. With 31 goals into the season, Vela is only one goal away from breaking Josef Martinez’s Single Season Goals record, and is also first in most goals scored this season, ahead of Sweedish striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic of the LA Galaxy, by a two goal difference (Vela has 31, Ibrahimovic has 29). As decision day looms ahead, each player has 90 minutes to decide who wins the Golden Boot award.
All good things must come to an end. This Sunday will possibly be Tim Howard’s final game as he has announced that he will be retiring at the end of this season. Since making his first save against his current club, the Colorado Rapids in 1998, The Hall of Fame Goalkeeper has played professional games for the MetroStars (now the New York Red Bulls), Manchester United and Everton and of course, for the U.S. Men's National Team. Including regular season, cup, playoff games and international caps, Howard’s last game on Sunday at LAFC will mark his 815th career appearance, but this match might not be his last. With a win against LAFC and favorable results in fixtures from San Jose and FC Dallas, the Rapids can punch their ticket to the playoffs. Although it might seem improbable, it is not impossible. What does Tim Howard’s legacy mean to you?
A historic night is in sight, here are some keys to having a successful decision day:
Execute without hesitation - Last match against Minnesota, there were a lot of times where LAFC had a chance at the goal from the box, but decided to either give a pass or dribble in more. Once you are inside the 18 or near it, get a shot off. A shot can create chances itself, either off of a rebound, deflection, or even gives you the chance to reset the play and try something new. No matter what, shoot all day long and get Howard to keep on diving. You all know the saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
Midfield - No matter who Bob Bradley puts in the middle to close out the season on Sunday, each midfielder needs to stick to the game plan. *SPOILER ALERT* Eduard Atuesta has been a key playmaker this entire season and it is time to give credit where credit is due. Nobody has the vision like Atuesta’s. He sees all and knows all before it happens, and that is what makes a great midfielder. As the playmakers, they need to be at least 2-3 steps ahead of everyone on the field, I like to call these players “Sorcerers”. Every Sorcerer must be on the same page in order for them to maintain, not only the midfield, but the game itself. If LAFC can do that, then the game is theirs.
Reading the attack during transitional play - Whether if it’s during a counter attack or a change of possession, the defense must be on top of the game in transition. These last few games, I have been picking on Walker Zimmerman and the rest of the backline for allowing such easy goals that could have been easily preventable, and I don’t want to have to call them out once more in my breakdown after this match. Just like the midfielders, if the defense can be a few steps ahead of the attack, then they are good, but no matter the scoreline, never get comfortable.
JR4’s Score Prediction
With so much at stake, but absolutely nothing to lose, and the support of the best fans in the MLS this season, I do not see why LAFC cannot put this one away. Carlos Vela will sneak by and break that record with a goal, but maybe it will not be enough. The Galaxy are playing Houston, and Zlatan is looking to cash in his briefcase and pin down Vela with a hat trick against the Dynamo. Ladies and Gentleman, that’s the beauty and misery of Decision day. Anything and everything can happen. LAFC will enter the conference semifinals with momentum by defeating the Colorado Rapids by a score of 2-0.
Let me know your thoughts on this match and your score predictions! Tweet me @Official_JR4
Tune into LAFC vs Colorado Rapids @ 1:00 pm, being televised on Unimas and KVMD (channel 31, local TV Station). Will LAFC gain the glory they are seeking? Or will Tim Howard and the Rapids get their prayers answered and earn a spot into the playoffs? Don’t miss out!