After a positive string of results while playing shorthanded for much of July, the reinforcements returning to the Colorado Rapids could help them become a dark horse contender for the MLS Cup out of the Western Conference.
Coach Robin Fraser, a former defender on the team who took over as coach late in the 2019 season, has instilled a defense-first mentality into the Rapids, who are fourth in the West with 27 points through 15 matches. Colorado (8-4-3) is five points behind conference-leading Seattle, but also has two matches in hand on the Sounders.
Goalkeeper William Yarbrough is tied for the MLS lead with seven shutouts, and the 16 goals allowed by the team is tied for third-fewest in the league. While there is no high-end striker, the Rapids have balance offensively, with four players scoring at least three goals apiece.
Sportsbooks across Colorado still have MLS Cup offerings available for the Rapids, who could be worth a flyer should they continue to make progress over the final three-plus months of the season.
Triumphant Acosta returns after USMNT Gold Cup title
— Undead Kranks (@dis_possessed) August 2, 2021
Midfielder Kellyn Acosta was one of three Rapids players on international duty for the United States, which defeated Mexico 1-0 after extra time Sunday night to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Acosta had arguably his finest performance at the international level versus El Tri, highlighted by his free kick in the 117th minute, which Miles Robinson headed home for the match-winner.
Fellow midfielder Jonathan Lewis and defender Sam Vines were also on the U.S. roster as the Rapids were able to claim 11 of a possible 18 points last month with the trio and as many as seven regulars missing time. Vines, who scored the match-winner for the U.S. against Haiti in the quarterfinals, has been the subject of transfer rumors in recent weeks.
Acosta’s return, plus the recent acquisition of central midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye from Los Angeles FC, should further strengthen Colorado’s defense while also allowing Michael Barrios to get forward more in attack.
Barrios has a team-leading four goals and assisted on four others, and will get help in the final third with the return of striker Dominique Badji via a trade from Nashville SC. Badji had 24 goals and 12 assists in 91 matches with the Rapids from 2015-18 before being dealt to FC Dallas.
Surveying the sportsbooks
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) August 1, 2021
Not all the books are taking action for the Rapids to win the MLS Cup, but among those that are, offerings are mostly ranging from +2000 (DraftKings) to +2500, which was the most common offering found at FOX Bet, WYNNBet, theScore, and SportsBetting.com. Caesars slotted itself between those offerings at +2200, while BetMGM is a huge outlier at only +1200.
BetRivers, among those offering the Rapids at +2500 to win the title, also has Colorado at +1100 to win the West and is offering a -162/+115 split for Colorado to finish ahead of Real Salt Lake in the standings. The Rapids are currently six points ahead of RSL with the same amount of matches played, and the Rocky Mountain rivals have two head-to-head matches remaining.
Photo by Denny Medley via USA TODAY Sports