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Rapids face CCL choice

October 16, 2011 | 4:57 pm No comments
By Shaun Schafer

The Colorado Rapids couldn’t solve the Real Salt Lake question on Friday, but with results on Saturday gifting the team a trip to the playoffs, coach Gary Smith now faces a squad dilemna.

Does he play the starters at Santos Laguna on Wednesday, or does he go with the reserves againg?

Smith has been conservative in use of his starters, relying on backups for CONCACAF Champions League matches. Along the way, the reserves have compiled a 2-2-1 record in the CCL and arrived at the precipice of a birth in the next round.

Standing in the way is a Santos Laguna side that whipped the Rapids 4-1 at home and already grabbed a spot in the second round. The Rapids could make it to the second round with a tie and same help, or the team could ensure a spot with a win.

Now, knowing that Santos is likely to field reserves in what has become a meaningless game for them, Smith has decide whether he wants to gamble his regulars for a win, or keep them fresh for a final regular season game on Saturday at Vancouver and a first-round playoff match on Oct. 26 or 27.

After the 0-0 tie with Salt Lake, the Rapids (11-9-13, 46 points) aren’t showing much on offense, but they aren’t giving up much either. The Rapids haven’t scored more than two goals in an MLS game since Aug. 20, but they have also shutout Salt Lake and Dallas in consecutive games.

Next Up: The final regular season game has the Rapids traveling to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. The team can move up or down in the standings, but will stay face a first round game.

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