Rapids-Sporting Kansas City Preview

Led by the league’s top goal-scoring duo, the Colorado Rapids

snapped a four-year playoff drought in 2010 and ultimately claimed

their first MLS title.

This season, the Rapids have rarely had Conor Casey and Omar

Cummings on the field at the same time, but they could get that

opportunity Wednesday night against red-hot Sporting Kansas

City.

Cummings scored a career-best 14 goals last season to finish

tied for fourth in the league. Casey had 13 and scored twice during

his team’s playoff run, including the tying goal in the MLS

championship game against FC Dallas.

Injuries have played a big role in the two strikers being

limited to a combined six goals this season. Since Cummings and

Casey both started the season opener, the only other time this year

they have been on the field together was the second half of a 3-1

loss to Los Angeles on June 18.

That defeat started Colorado’s current three-game winless

stretch (0-1-2), during which it has been outscored 7-2.

“I’m still disappointed that we’re not putting the goals up,”

defender Drew Moor told the league’s website. “You can’t win games

if you don’t score goals … We definitely have the firepower and

the individuals to do that, and that’ll come.”

The Rapids (5-5-8) have been limited to 11 goals in 15 games

since scoring eight during a franchise-best 3-0 start. Cummings

scored twice in that streak, but a sprained right ankle kept him

out of the starting lineup for two months until Sunday’s scoreless

draw against Houston.

Casey, who missed six games earlier this season because of a

strained left hamstring, was serving a suspension for receiving a

red card during a June 26 loss at Columbus.

“We just can’t seem to get everything in place,” coach Gary

Smith said. “It will come together. It’s going to come

together.”

Smith’s club has the daunting task of facing a team that is

4-0-4 in its last eight. Plus, the Rapids are 0-7-3 at Kansas City

since winning there Sept. 14, 2002.

Sporting KC (5-6-5) is 1-0-2 in the last three overall matchups

and kicked off its current unbeaten stretch with a 1-all draw at

Colorado on May 28.

It overcame the absence of captain Davy Arnaud (hernia surgery)

to record its second straight win Saturday, 2-1 in Portland. C.J.

Sapong and Auerlien Collin gave their team all the scoring it would

need in the first 19 minutes.

“I think it’s just confidence,” defender Matt Besler said.

“During the 10-game stretch that we had on the road (to start the

season), we thought we were playing well but things just weren’t

going our way.

After traveling for 13 of its first 16 games, Kansas City will

play 11 of 12 at Livestrong Sporting Park, where it’s 2-0-1.

Remaining unbeaten there Wednesday would give the team its longest

overall unbeaten streak since a 6-0-3 run June 5-July 24, 2004.