While goals haven't been easy to come by, things are starting to come together for the Colorado Rapids.
Looking to continue their stellar defensive play, the visiting Rapids try for a fourth consecutive win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday night.
Colorado (3-4-3) allowed seven goals in opening 0-3-2 but has since surrendered two during a 3-1-1 run. The Rapids posted their third clean sheet over that stretch last Saturday with a 1-0 win over Toronto FC.
Edson Buddle, who came on as a halftime substitute after sitting out back-to-back contests with knee troubles, provided the offense with his first goal in the 86th minute. While they have proven plenty stringy of late, the Rapids are averaging just 0.80 goals - 15th in the league.
"It's going to come. I think we know that," Buddle told the league's official website. "The good thing is that we are getting chances. It would be a bad thing if we weren't getting any chances. We have good players that find themselves in dangerous positions, and we'll put those chances away."
Colorado now tries to keep things going versus Columbus (3-3-3), which brought an 8-0-4 home unbeaten streak into last Saturday's match versus New York before falling 1-0. The Crew haven't been handed back-to-back home losses since dropping their final three contests in 2009.
Columbus, which suffered postseason defeats to the Rapids in 2010 and 2011, has lost the last three matchups in the series by a combined 5-0. All three, however, came in Colorado.
"It's a different time of year," Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. "Obviously, we need points more than ever. I think having the game at home, especially after the loss against New York, that's the extra motivation."
Hosting Colorado could make all the difference, as the Crew have outscored the Rapids 15-6 during a 6-0-2 run in the series at home. Despite that success, they expect to have their hands full Saturday.
"(Colorado) usually gives us a really tough game," midfielder Eddie Gaven said. "We know it's not going to be easy this weekend, for sure. At the end of the day, it will come down to us. If we can play the way we know how and we play ... I think we'll be fine. Hopefully we can come out with the right mindset, play well and get three points."
Federico Higuain surely will be looking to redeem himself after his potential go-ahead penalty kick was stopped in the 72nd minute last weekend - his first miss in three tries in MLS.
"After that, all that's left is to keep working and to try to keep improving," he said.
Columbus could be without midfielder Danny O'Rourke, who's uncertain to be available due to a sprained ankle. He's started every game thus far.
"Danny's been playing great for us the last few games, so it will definitely be a huge loss if he's not able to go," Gaven said. "We have a very deep team and whoever comes into his role will be more than able to do the job and able to help us get three points."