Sun, 05 Apr 2020

Rapids, D.C. United set to kick off MLS season

Field Level Media
29 Feb 2020, 04:55 GMT+10

The Colorado Rapids and D.C. United meet Saturday afternoon in Washington in the first match of the 25th MLS season.

The contest pits two teams who were original founding members of the league in 1996 and met in the second-ever MLS Cup in 1997.

It's also an encounter between teams who are hoping 2020 will be the year when they recapture some of their former glory.

"It's great and certainly as we talk about it, it's certainly fond memories, and I've been very fortunate to be a part of the league for 25 years," said Colorado coach Robin Fraser, who started his MLS career as a defender for the LA Galaxy in 1996.

"All of that being said, (D.C. coach Ben Olsen) is trying to win a game and I'm trying to win a game."

It's been a decade since the Rapids won their only MLS Cup in 2010, and they haven't reached the postseason since 2016.

They performed considerably better down the stretch last season after Fraser was hired, winning five of their last seven to finish in a respectable ninth place in the Western Conference.

And they followed that with an offseason focused around practical rather than splashy additions, including young former Philadelphia center back Auston Trusty and former Toronto FC midfielder Nicolas Benezet.

D.C. United have had more recent success, winning the 2013 U.S. Open Cup and reaching the postseason five of the last six years.

But they come into 2020 with the challenge of overcoming offseason departures of former Manchester United and England star striker Wayne Rooney and talented Argentine playmaker Luciano Acosta. Additionally, U.S. national team midfielder Paul Arriola is out for the season after tearing his ACL this preseason.

The addition of Peruvian national team playmaker Edison Flores from Liga MX and two former Atlanta United wingers in Yamil Asad and Julian Gressel should offset some of that.

But for a team that began its history winning four of the first nine MLS Cups, the standards are always high -- even as Olsen preaches patience.

"It's never perfect the first month," he said. "Everybody's scratching for points with an imperfect team, and still trying to figure out who they are. But it's important to do a lot of little things so you can try to amass as many points early as possible."

--Field Level Media

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