NEW YORK – Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Matt Pickens delivered a subtle message on Tuesday about drawing the Columbus Crew in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs.
"I like our draw, I'll put it that way," Pickens told the Denver Post.
Columbus Crew winger Robbie Rogers did not read the comment but was surprised to hear about it when contacted by MLSsoccer.com just before flying out to Denver ahead of Thursday’s MLS Cup playoff opener at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes).
“Not the smartest comment to make, especially with a team that has done as well as we have in the last three seasons,” Rogers said. “I’m glad for them that they made the playoffs and now we get to face them. … It gives me more motivation.”
Rogers, who came back from left knee surgery to play all 90 minutes of the Crew’s final three regular-season matches, said his team is not the road-weary side it was a few weeks ago when it battled through US Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League matches. Despite the fact the Crew have to play at altitude and are on short rest, Rogers said the team is in good spirits.
“In training, and in the last few games, everyone looks like they have a lot of energy and look pretty sharp,” Rogers said. “A few weeks ago, I would have told you another story, but right now, everyone looks really healthy and really strong.”
They will need that energy to execute the game plan that Rogers says the team has laid out for the match. The Crew plan to be cautious, but at the same time will pressure and force the Rapids into mistakes, hoping to capitalize on the opportunities.
The Fighting Canaries, who won the Supporters' Shield in 2008 and 2009 and missed out by just nine points this season, are a little befuddled at the fact that some might consider them underdogs in this series.
Former Colorado Rapids legend Marcelo Balboa told MLSsoccer.com that he considers his ex-club to be the favorites given the form each side has shown in the stretch run of the regular season.
“The last time people looked down on us we won a championship in 2008,” Rogers said. “I don’t know about the other guys [on the Crew], but I think it’s great to be an underdog. I don’t feel we are, but it gives us more motivation.”
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