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Still alive in CCL, Rapids take reserve-heavy team to face Isidro Metapan


Photo by David Bernal/

The Colorado Rapids could advance to the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League by winning both of their last two group matches. Even so, it looks like club is throwing in the towel on its tournament run.

Colorado sent a reserve-heavy squad to face Isidro Metapan in El Salvador for Wednesday's match, and head coach Gary Smith didn't make the trip, either, instead leaving assistant coach Steve Guppy to handle the team.

The Rapids are currently in fourth place in Group B (tied for third on points but behind on goal differential), but they still control their own destiny. Granted, the odds on the Rapids winning road matches against Metapan and Santos Laguna are long considering the team's current form, but the fact remains that advancing is still a possibility. Colorado already beat Metapan in their earlier group meeting at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

In order for the Rapids to repeat that performance on Wednesday and avoid elimination — which would occur with a loss — they'll have to get the most out of Omar Cummings, Mac Kandji, Wells Thompson and Tyrone Marshall, who are the few regular/semi-regular starters who made the trip. 

Among the players being held back are Pablo Mastroeni, Jeff Larentowicz, Drew Moor, Marvell Wynne, Matt Pickens, Caleb Folan, Kosuke Kimura and Sanna Nyassi.

The tactic isn't a huge surprise after Smith revealed that the club was turning its focus to league play and defending its MLS Cup title following Colorado's 2-1 loss to Real Espana in its last CCL match.

Colorado faces FC Dallas in an MLS Cup rematch this weekend hoping to snap a five-match winless streak in league play while fortifying its place in the postseason.

"We're teetering on the edge in both competitions," Smith said in an interview on the Rapids' website. "The more senior players are staying here, so I've leaned slightly toward the domestic competition, but I would only say slightly.

"The difficulties in trying to put two competitive teams out, the fact that we play away, the long travel and the game that will unfold in Metapán will be very different than the one at home against Dallas. We have to face up to those challenges and I have to make a decision on where and how these players are going to be implemented.

"I think by offering the opportunity to our senior players to focus very firmly on the MLS game, I hope to get a little bit more out of them, of course. A long journey and a very difficult game midweek is certainly going to do no good to our form returning domestically. So that has been a little bit more of a focus, and avoiding injuries of course."


What do you think of the Rapids taking a mostly reserve team to a CCL match with the team not yet eliminated? Do you agree with Smith's decisions?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Gary Smith is right. The MLS playoffs are way more important than the Champions League. Missing the playoffs would be a huge loss for the Rapids. Honor or not, the CCL is not as important to the competing teams as their domestic leagues. The Rapids are not the only team to field reserves in this tournament. (Pumas, anyone?) Given the travel involved, it also makes sense for Smith to stay in Colorado to prepare for Saturday against FCD. Any coach of a team involved in multiple competitions has to make tough choices about playing rosters. Smith has made the right ones here.

  2. Does Hans Backe coach for a MLS team? Oh thats right, he coaches for that New York team.

    Does anybody really care about the Red Bull(s)? And yes, USSF should have fined the Red Bull(s) and I hope the MLS had a long talk with Backe about insulting the Open Cup.

  3. They hoisted our most celebrated league trophy and most definitely represent our league.

    Yes, it makes Colorado look Mickey Mouse. Yes, Colorado being MLS Champions within this tournament make MLS look Mickey Mouse.

    The real source of the issue, one could argue, is the MLS Cup in general and how incredibly flawed that is/valued, in our league.

    Just another sign that we need to honor/celebrate Supporters Shield for what it truly is: The best MLS club that year.

    When the days of celebrating a club that was hot for a few weeks ends and instead rewards it over an entire season….I’ll be a happy MLS supporter.

  4. Bitter Dallas fan huh? You can talk about thug play after players like Hernandez (slapping Larentowicz on the back of the head behind the ref) and Ihemelu (shoving an injured Kandji off the field) are off your squad.

  5. I do find it amusing that Backe is the whipping boy on this. He bailed out of the zero-prestige/zero-media/zero-money Lamar Hunt Cup. This is the Champions League. But even so, who remembers who won the CCL last year? Rapids are in the hunt for the MLS Cup — and they may well have been further up the table if they they hadn’t devoted so many resources to extracurricular tournaments. I understand the prestigious glow that MLS would achieve to compete and win in the CCL. But with the salary cap the way it is, MLS teams are simply not built for this. Backe may have looked like a jerk when he bailed on the Chicago US Open game, but there are a lot of old legs on RBNY. They need to stay fresh in October.

  6. Rapids suck, and didn’t desreve to win MLS Cup, their filthy hands on the trophy was a disgrace to the beautiful game. The Rapids thug play got them to the championship and beat out a more talented Dallas squad on a fluke goal. Now the Rapids are throwing in the towel for the CCL? Laughable, they are a subpar team who have no skill and are slightly less terrible then the slow unskilled hacks in Houston. It is an honor to play international tournaments, the Rapids gave a middle finger to the MLS by playing so poorly, their rivals RSL played in two tournaments with dedication and played a good Dallas squad last year in MLS Cup 2010, but lost, the Rapids are nothing but quitters…… I mean the Sounders are at least trying hard to win the CCL.

  7. the Rapids gave up when they put a reserve squad out vs. Santos in the second home game of the tournament. Which didnt make much sense after playing the first 2 games very well.

    I agree that Smith should be embarrassed with his handling of CCL, especially considering that he didn’t really try in the Open Cup either.

  8. +1 i thought it was very low class earlier this season when Han Backe didn’t show up for a USOC game.. now Gary Smith and the CCL; terrible.

    At the same time I heard about this i also got an email telling me to re-up my season ticket.. not a good time to ask for my money, quitters

  9. I don’t care if a team is 0-4 in a competition like this. Not sending your first team coach to a competitive match, ANY competitive match, is one of the most insulting things I’ve ever heard. Slap in the face to fans, players, opponents, the competition, MLS and CONCACAF.

    The Rapids clearly don’t give a snit about the supporters, so why should we care about them? This team continues to be an embarrassment.

  10. I am not sure how I feel for the Rapids, but in regard to the CCL, I would hope that CONCACAF fines Colorado for sending this clearly reserve squad without the head coach. Even when Fergie sends teenagers to Greece for an away game, he goes.

  11. Managers should be required to attend all matches played by their professional club.

    This makes the league, the club & the tournament look Mickey Mouse.

    Again, these are professionals paid a wage to manage and play. Disgrace.

  12. I don’t get the coach not going.

    I don’t get the players not going either.

    I wouldn’t stand for it without a fight as a player.

    I guess the top players can’t go if the coach doesn’t show….it would make him look like he doesn’t care.

  13. Gotta agree with you. CCL is an honor and it’s no easy task to be one of the 4 American teams. Rapids should put 110% into the competition. Anything less is a wasted opportunity.

  14. As a Rapids fan I’ve got no problem with the reserve-heavy lineup. If anything I would have left Cummings home too.

    But Gary Smith not going is a bit of an insult. Other than Hans Backe, what coach skips a first-team game?

  15. Don’t agree with this at all. I understand that the rapids are in MLS, but you “compete” for the MLSchampionship every year. Why wouldn’t you take CCL way more seriously considering it could be another 5 years or longer before you have another shot at it?

  16. I imagine it’s a tough decision for Colorado fans to take, but with 42 points and being in the Western Conference, the playoffs are by no means a sure thing right now.


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