Short-handed Rapids brace for visiting Crew (Jun 03, 2017)

BY AP • June 2, 2017

Colorado's optimism coming off just its third win of the season is tempered by the reality that as many as four defensive stalwarts will be unavailable on Saturday when the Rapids host Columbus Crew SC.

Goalkeeper Tim Howard and defender Bobby Burling are out for sure while injuries could prevent center backs Axel Sjoberg and Jared Watts from playing for the Rapids (3-8-1).

Burling received a one-game suspension for violent conduct in the 18th minute of the 1-0 win against Sporting Kansas City last Saturday.

Howard was called to the U.S. men's national team and will be replaced by Zac MacMath, who is 1-3-0 with one shutout and a 1.25 goals-against average this season.

Three of those appearances came when Howard was suspended for a confrontation with a fan after a match at Sporting KC on April 9.

"I've played a few games this year already," MacMath said. "I'll try to find my routine and get my training in before this weekend."

He'll face a Columbus team that emphatically rebounded from a 5-0 loss at Toronto FC on May 26 with a 3-0 home victory vs. Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday.

"It was a complete performance just dominating the game in every regard, so that was a great response," Crew forward Adam Jahn said. "Now we're looking for another three points in Colorado and if you think about it -- six points in a week -- people would never have thought that after (the Toronto game)."

The Crew (7-7-1) got goals from their big three -- Justin Meram and Ola Kamara each scored their eighth goals to tie for third in MLS and Federico Higuain picked up his fifth.

That firepower contrasts to the Rapids, who have just 10 goals this season.

But Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter is wary of the Rapids, especially with Columbus going to altitude for its second game in four days.

"They have confidence in that they just beat a tough Kansas City team at home," he said. "It's going to be a difficult game. It's not going to be easy."

Colorado will play the second of four straight at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

"The guys are excited to have these games at home," coach Pablo Mastroeni said. "The performance (vs. Sporting Kansas City) was really fantastic as far as grinding out a result against the best team in the league at the weekend."



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