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July 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM

Sounders FC vs. Colorado Rapids, preview and prediction

Colorado Rapids Logo.jpgSounders FC (9-4-8) vs. Colorado Rapids (6-5-9)

Saturday, July 16, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.

TV: FOX Soccer Channel (Mark Rogondino, Kyle Martino, Keith Bleyer)

Radio: KIRO 97.3 FM (Arlo White)

Referee: Edvin Jurisevic

KEY RAPIDS PLAYERS

F Conor Casey — Six goals in his last seven games. Big, strong, skilled. When healthy and in form he’s one of the most dangerous forwards in the league. And who can forget this goal (at the 1:05 mark) against the Sounders last year?

M Jeff Larentowicz — The red-head has played every minute this season and is a phenomenal two-way player. Has surprisingly kept the yellow cards down with only three. His 20 shots rank near the team lead and only Casey has more than his three goals.

GK Matt Pickens — It’s no secret the Sounders are in form, and playing at home you’d expect the guys in green to put the Rapids under pressure. That means the goalkeeper might be called upon to step up — several have against Seattle this season. Has conceded 23 goals, but a 1.15 GAA isn’t that bad.

KEY MATCH-UPS

Fredy Montero vs. Drew Moor — Seattle’s DP forward has scored three goals this week and that adrenaline, I think, will have him in line to play his third game in seven days. Colorado’s center back has played every minute this season and is a little underrated around the league in my opinion.

Omar Cummings vs. Tyson Wahl — The speedy Jamaican is a terror for defenders, either as a forward or wide-right midfielder. I’ll guess he ends up on the right where he’ll have more room to run. The thick grass and dirt might actually slow him down a little, which could help the Sounders left back.

Form vs. law of averages — Eight games unbeaten is pretty impressive. I think four wins out of five is even more impressive. MLS is a league of parity and, this season, a league of ties so it’s not unreasonable to expect Seattle’s red-hot run to level out a little bit.

PREDICTION

Certainly Brian Mullan’s presence would’ve added an unpredictability to the game. His absence means the focus will be solely on the soccer and the Rapids can be a dangerous team. The visitors are about as healthy as they’ve been all season and have some formidable weapons in Casey, Cummings, Caleb Folan and others.

It’ll be interesting to see how the grass affects things. I think it make take both teams some time to get used to. In the end I see Seattle getting the better of the run of play, but ultimately a draw.

Sounders FC 1, Colorado Rapids 1

COL — Cummings (Kosuke Kimura) 39′

SEA — Lamar Neagle (Mauro Rosales) 62′

* * *

What do you think? Does the Sounders train keep rolling?

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