Off long MLS layoff, Toronto FC visits Rapids

The Colorado Rapids opened their home schedule last month in the snow and cold. It wasn’t exactly the ideal weather for a soccer match, and things won’t be much better when they host Toronto FC at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday night in Commerce City, Colo.

After a few days of near-80-degree temperatures Colorado is getting a cold front that could bring more snow by the 7 p.m. local time start. But Colorado (1-1-2) is more concerned with beating Toronto (1-2-0), which is playing its first MLS match in 15 days.

The Rapids are led by striker Dominique Badji, who has four of the team’s seven goals this season. Colorado rookie coach Anthony Hudson is happy with the play of his team’s forwards, and the overall offense, this early into the schedule.

“What I am pleased with is that our strikers are scoring, but also in the games we’ve had plenty of players that had chances,” Hudson told Altitude Radio. “We also want to get our wingbacks and our midfielders into the box, but we just haven’t gotten there yet.”

The Rapids dropped their opener in New England last month and haven’t lost since. Their one win was an impressive 3-0 victory over Philadelphia Union on March 31, and they followed that up with a solid draw in Dallas a week later.

Toronto’s MLS schedule has been light to start the season. Toronto, along with Seattle in the Western Conference, has played just three matches while some teams have already played as many as six. But Toronto has been busy with CONCACAF Champions League matches, which began in February.

Toronto might have to brace for a little payback from Colorado. The teams met in the CONCACAF Champions League in February and Toronto won the two-game, total-goals set 2-0. It went on to beat Club America in the same format by the same margin earlier this week and will now play Chivas Guadalajara for the title, with the first leg starting Tuesday.

The winner will represent CONCACAF at the FIFA Club World Cup this year.

Beating Chivas would cap an incredible ride for Toronto, which captured the MLS Cup, Supporters’ Shield and Voyageurs Cup last season. The CONCACAF Champions League trophy would complete the collection.

“The objective from the beginning has been to be in this tournament until the end, give ourselves a chance to win the trophy,” Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley told the team’s website before playing Club America on Tuesday. “That’s the only thing that counts.”

The Rapids might be able to take advantage of Toronto’s busy schedule and its focus on the first leg of the championship match on Tuesday. Colorado has a title in its trophy case, having won the 2010 MLS Cup, and came close two years ago before falling to Seattle in the Western Conference finals.

A slide last year led to a coaching change, and so far Colorado has found its offense under Hudson. The Rapids will need that production against Toronto on Saturday.