The road doesn't get any easier for the Columbus Crew.
Fresh off of a defensively oriented 0-0 draw at home against FC Dallas, the Black & Gold are now set to travel to Commerce City to face Colorado at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, where the Rapids have the second-best home goal differential in all of MLS at plus-eight.
"Colorado's a good team," said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. "I like the group they have in terms of the unpredictability of their play. They have some good players and I think it's an exciting team. They played a good game against Vancouver last week and they've been doing well recently."
Berhalter was referring to Colorado's 2-0 victory over Vancouver at home on June 28, one of many recent impressive performances at home by the Rapids. Colorado is 3-0-1 over its last four home matches, and it hasn't lost at Dick's Sporting Goods Park since May 11.
"[Colorado has] had a great start to the season," said Crew midfielder Wil Trapp. "[They have a] new coach this year with [Pablo] Mastroeni and I think they've responded well. The players are behind him. They're working hard and they're scoring goals."
Colorado has traditionally carried a reputation as a defensive squad, but this year's iteration of the team has been fueled by impressive young attacking talent, namely striker Deshorn Brown (five goals, 52 shots) and playmaker Dillon Powers (three goals, four assists). Additionally, veteran Vicente Sanchez has paced the Rapids in goals, with six.
Berhalter expects Colorado to play a more open style of soccer than the Crew's previous opponent, but also thinks that might play into his side's favor.
"One of the factors is going to be how we can keep the ball playing against a team that hopefully will want to play. If you look at the game on Sunday, [FC Dallas] had 10 players behind the ball almost the whole game, and it made it very difficult for us to break down, especially in those conditions. I expect Colorado to open up, really be aggressive and want to attack us. That suits our game, I think."
The Crew is 11-18-8 all-time against Colorado, having last met the Rapids on May 11, 2013 at Columbus Crew Stadium, falling by a 2-0 final in a match where both Powers and former Crew striker Edson Buddle found the back of the net.
On a special note, this match is slated to be the Crew's 11th all-time on the Fourth of July, including its third in Colorado on Independence Day. The Crew is 2-5-3 on the holiday overall, but has earned at least one point in three of its last four Fourth of July matches.