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Signal Intel: Colorado’s Reversion, Chicago’s Revision Square Off

Fire heavy favorites against struggling Colorado

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Chicago Fire
Luis Solignac’s development on the right wing has been a lovely surprise this season for the Men in Red.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

We traded questions with Abbie Mood of Burgundy Wave in the run-up to this evening’s game! My answers to Abbie’s questions can be found here.

Hot Time: Colorado's 2017 has seemed, from the outside, a textbook case of 'reversion to the mean.' The implication is that there is little blame to be shouldered for this year's reversals - it's fate! Do Rapids supporters share that idea, or were there mistakes made in the offseason which have led to the poor start to the season?

Burgundy Wave: Well, as they say, it's complicated. There was bound to be a bit of regression to the mean, but at there are some other factors as well. The Rapids have consistently had problems scoring, and in the off-season, the FO wasn't able to bring in someone who can get the offense going. Nana Boateng was supposed to help, but then he broke his back (thanks RSL). We've also been without defensive stronghold Axel Sjoberg since our second game (who may actually be back this week against the Fire), and other guys have been struggling with some injuries, too, like Gashi.

About a month into the season, the Rapids traded our captain Sam Cronin, and another starter/veteran Marc Burch to Minnesota United for some $ + Mo Saeid and Josh Gatt. Mo is turning into an important part of our offense, and Gatt has potential. Many fans were understandably upset about this trade, but the FO has plans to bring someone in this summer, so I think we'll come out on top if they can make that happen.

Last week vs. San Jose we finally (!) saw a change in the formation, as Pablo Mastroeni went with a 4-4-2. We scored three goals and shut out San Jose, who were coming off a two-game winning streak. Whether or not we'll see the same thing again is to be decided, but if the Rapids can play as well as they played last weekend, we may have hit a turning point.

HT: Is Shkëlzen Gashi a black-metal version of Sebastian Giovinco? (The umlaut!) Discuss.

BW: Oh man, this is really a question for our resident metal expert, Richard Terry, but I'll do my best. It's funny to think of Gashi as "black metal" anything because the guy radiates positivity, is almost always wearing a fresh pair of white sneakers, and he also possibly owns a yacht in Dubai.

But I'll take any comparison to Giovinco, especially if it results in his goal production ;)

HT: Tim Howard is a USMNT legend, but he's also at the age where one starts to receive premature AARP mailings at random - how has he played, and should he be keeping Zac McMath on the bench? (Follow-up: How much do you want for McMath?)

BW: Ha - this is the big question. Zac MacMath was doing a great job before Howard came in last year (he was statistically the best keeper in MLS). We didn't *need* another goalkeeper. But a guy like Tim Howard brings leadership, experience, and a big name. People started coming to Rapids games just because of him. His performance in the Western Conference semis against LA with those PK saves speaks for itself - I don't think MacMath could have done that. Howard is super athletic, whereas MacMath depends more on his positioning. Both are fine, they're just different.

But then this season, Howard missed a couple games because he was still healing from an injury, and then he was suspended for three games, and MacMath came back in and does a solid job. In hindsight, should the Rapids have brought in a winger/striker/#10 instead of another goalkeeper? Yes, they absolutely should have. But instead, we have a world-class keeper and a starter-caliber back up.

I do think MacMath deserves to be on a team where he is the regular starter, but no, you can't have him unless you give us Nikolic.

Probable lineups: The lineup is tricky because Pablo shook up some things last week, and then Axel Sjoberg is traveling with the team and Mekeil Williams is back. In a perfect world, we would go with a similar lineup as last weekend:

4-4-2: Tim Howard; Eric Miller, Bobby Burling (or maybe even Axel Sjoberg), Jared Watts, Marlon Hairston; Mohammed Saeid, Dillon Powers, Micheal Azira, Shkelzen Gashi; Kevin Doyle, Dominique Badji

Pablo mentioned Marlon Hairston getting fit for the fullback position, so we might see a backline with Mekeil Williams today instead of Hairston.

Considering how Chicago has been playing lately, but also considering that this is a mid-week game, I think getting away with any sort of tie would be a big win for Colorado.