Match Preview

PREVIEW | FC Cincinnati head west for first visit at Colorado Rapids since 2019

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FC Cincinnati will take on the Colorado Rapids for the first time in nearly two years on Saturday, May 27. Kickoff is set for 9:30 p.m. ET and the game will stream exclusively on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app and fans can also listen to the match locally on ESPN 1530.

The Rapids are one of eight clubs FCC have never defeated, with Colorado coming out winners in both of the previous two matchups. Cincinnati have not visited the Mile High City since June 1, 2019, in Cincinnati’s inaugural MLS season.


Stream: MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app
TV Talent (English): Adrian Healey (play-by-play), Cobi Jones (analyst)
TV Talent (Spanish): Francisco X. Rivera (play-by-play), Diego Arrioja (analyst)
Radio: ESPN 1530
Radio Talent: Tom Gelehrter (play-by-play), Omar Cummings (analyst)

Be sure to follow @FCCincinnati on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for live updates from the game.

Saturday’s matchup will mark the third all-time meeting between Cincinnati and Colorado. The Rapids won both previous matchups.

The Rapids took the first matchup, 3-1, on June 1, 2019 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The second matchup was the first full-capacity crowd in TQL Stadium history, a sellout crowd of 25,054 on June 19, 2021. The visitors spoiled the party and won, 2-0, despite the Orange and Blue setting a club-record 22 shots that night, a record which still stands.

The Colorado Rapids enter the weekend looking for positives after suffering a midweek loss in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to rival Real Salt Lake and dropping four-straight MLS matches. In 2022, road woes kept Colorado out of the playoffs, but this year they have struggled at home. The Rapids have yet to pick up a win at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park this season, entering Saturday 0-3-3 in league play at home.

The Rapids sit only above Sporting Kansas City and LA Galaxy in the Western Conference table but find themselves just four points back of ninth-place Austin FC for the final playoff spot as the midway point of the season approaches.

Colorado have scored just 12 goals through 14 matches this season and have yet to find a consistent threat in front of goal. No Rapids player has scored more than two goals, with Lalas Abubakar, Michael Barrios and Kévin Cabral leading the way (all having scored two goals). Colorado have scored just five goals in front of the home crowd.

Defensively, Colorado has seen a mixed bag of results. The Rapids have three clean sheets this season, one of which came against 2022 MLS Cup champions LAFC and their MVP-caliber talent in Dénis Bouanga. On the flip side, Colorado have suffered a pair of 4-0 losses against the Seattle Sounders on the opening week of the season and again against Atlanta United on May 17.

Robin Fraser leads the Rapids in his fourth full season with the club. Fraser led the Rapids to the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2020 and 2021 and is one of Colorado’s most successful managers in club history, holding a record of 41-28-24.

THE BUSY SCHEDULE CONTINUES Saturday night continues a congested stretch for FC Cincinnati. The match against the Rapids will mark FCC’s fourth of six games in an 18-day span. And with the Orange and Blue advancing past the Red Bulls into the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals, FC Cincinnati will end up playing eight games in a 25-day span between May 17 and June 10.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN Following four-straight games across all competitions at FC Cincinnati’s fortress in TQL Stadium, the Colorado trip will mark the second of three road games in just over a week for Cincinnati.

Cincinnati are 1-1-4 across all competitions away from the Queen City.

LIMITED SAMPLE SIZE – FC Cincinnati have just two prior matchups against the Colorado Rapids. Only two players appeared in those two games – Nick Hagglund and Allan Cruz. The lone Cincinnati goal scorer against the Rapids was Kekuta Manneh, who tallied a goal in the 2019 matchup in Commerce City, Colorado.

STREAKS FOR ACOSTA – Cincinnati’s captain Luciano Acosta enters Saturday night with 199 regular season appearances in his Major League Soccer career.

Acosta, who was named MLS Player of the Matchday for Matchday 14 after his superb performance against the Columbus Crew, has scored in three-straight league games for FCC. With a goal on Saturday night, he could match Brandon Vazquez’s club-record four-game goal streak set last July and August.

BADJI’S BACK – Saturday night will mark forward Dominique Badji’s first return to Colorado since FCC acquired him on January 4, 2022. Badji made 103 regular season appearances, and five playoff appearances, with the Rapids in two stints with the club. He scored 29 career goals in a Rapids jersey.

A FIRST WIN – The Rapids are one of eight active MLS teams which FC Cincinnati have never beaten.

So far this season, the first-place Orange and Blue have knocked off three clubs for the first time: Seattle Sounders, New York City FC and Nashville SC.

HAVING THE FIRST SAY – Opponents have scored on FC Cincinnati first just once this season (4.15 at STL). Every other team in MLS have conceded first in an MLS game at least twice in 2023.

Head Coach Pat Noonan on handling playing Colorado with a lack of team experience against the Rapids
“Educating some of the players on what they're about to see and feel. So we have guys that, you know, haven't played in altitude, guys that have but elsewhere. And so the importance of how you prepare yourself, we'll be in market for the least amount of time possible … On top of just educating them about what they might experience on the field, it's how the ball travels. Some of the slight differences in how quickly it gets to your feet, or when you're playing balls direct, crosses in the box, understanding how to navigate that and judge those, the flight of the ball, so a lot of that they won't experience until they're out on the field and in pregame.

“And then, obviously, from the standpoint of Colorado, trying to get them up to speed in a short amount of time about an opponent, like you said, that they're unfamiliar with.”

Noonan on his experience playing at the Colorado altitude
“Physically, you come across different challenges as the game is progressing. Maybe that initial 'Oh, man, I'm struggling to recover,' and then you get a second wind, and a lot of it's just the mental aspect of the game. So like I said, it's educating them on what they might experience, but at the same time, not putting information their head that has them immediately thinking about excuses. There's no excuses, it's going into a difficult place, and trying to find ways to be successful. So how do we make sure that the messages are to be confident going into the game and continue the strong form in terms of our results? But like every postgame analysis, how do we improve on our game against Red Bulls, which wasn't a strong game by any stretch, but was a good result for us."

PRESS CONFERENCE | Pat Noonan | May 25, 2023