'Revamped' Rapids ready for scuffling St. Louis City

League: MLS

Posted on: 19 Jun, 2024 at 01:14 AM

Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 season has felt like a new dawn for the Colorado Rapids, who head out to visit St. Louis City on Wednesday after ending a brief winless spell.

The Rapids (7-7-4, 25 points) were 0-3-1 across four matches before they defeated Austin FC 2-0 on Saturday. Rafael Navarro scored his club-leading 10th goal of the campaign after Cole Bassett netted his sixth, which ranks second on the team.

Colorado has already eclipsed not only its win total from 2023 (five), but also its goal total. After managing just 26 all of last year, tied for the fewest in MLS, the Rapids have scored 31 and counting.

Bassett, a midfielder with an eye on making the U.S. men's national team for the Olympics, credited first-year coach Chris Armas for the stark turnaround.

"He's the best manager I've ever had," Bassett said. "For me, he's given me a confidence and freedom within the group to kind of drive the team forward. I feel like I'm kind of -- not the quarterback of the team, but the guy that tries to get everybody involved. Give the ball to Djordje (Mihailovic), give the ball to Rafa, Omir (Fernandez), Kevin (Cabral), like let them go do their thing.

"And then I can come from behind as the play's developing, you know, how my goal happened, get shots on top of the box."

St. Louis (3-5-9, 18 points) has experienced the inverse of Colorado's rise this season.

After a surprising debut year that saw them win the Western Conference, St. Louis City are just 11th in the West and on a six-match slide (0-4-2). The club hasn't scored in its past two matches, as it followed up a 0-0 draw with the Portland Timbers by falling 2-0 to FC Dallas on Saturday.

Making matters tougher, second-leading scorer Celio Pompeu needed season-ending surgery for a dislocated left ankle and fibula fracture suffered against Dallas. He had three goals on the year; Joao Klauss leads St. Louis with five.

St. Louis coach Bradley Carnell worked with Armas on the same staff from 2017-20 during his time with the New York Red Bulls.

"(Armas) really revamped that whole roster and Colorado looks like a different outfit under his tutelage," Carnell said. "It's going to be a nice battle on Wednesday."

--Field Level Media