Colorado Rapids

Preview: Colorado Rapids Set to Face Orlando City SC in Preseason Finale

February 16, 2024 - Major League Soccer (MLS)
Colorado Rapids News Release

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. - The Rapids are gearing up for a showdown against fellow MLS side Orlando City SC in a closed-door scrimmage on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 5:30 p.m. MT. This marks their third and final match in the second leg of preseason games in Orlando, Florida, before heading back to Colorado.

Colorado remains undefeated in Orlando during the second leg of preseason games. The team heads into the upcoming match following a 2-2 draw against USL Championship side Hartford Athletic, providing significant minutes for several young Rapids players, including newly signed Rapids 2 midfielder Antony Garcia and Noah Strellnauer. Strellnauer, a product of the Rapids Academy currently playing at the U17 level, made his second-consecutive appearance with the first team. The match also witnessed winger Jonathan Lewis score his fourth and fifth goals of preseason. Prior to this, the Rapids secured an impressive 6-2 victory against CF Montréal last Saturday, featuring goals from six different players. The first leg of preseason matches in Mexico, including a 5-1 triumph over Atlante FC and another 5-1 victory against Querétaro FC, after an initial 3-1 defeat against Atlético Morelia.

Orlando City SC secured second place in the Eastern Conference during the 2023 MLS regular season and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals in the playoffs, only to suffer a 2-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew. Additionally, they were runners-up in the 2023 Supporters' Shield and claimed victory in the U.S. Open Cup in 2022. The Lions also triumphed over Colorado in 2023, winning the lone meeting between the two on June 10 with a 2-0 victory against the nine-man Rapids' side. During this offseason, Orlando City has made significant acquisitions, including forward Luis Muriel as a Designated Player, midfielder Nico Lodeiro, and defender David Brekalo. Additionally, they have signed homegrown defender Tahir Reid-Brown to a first-team contract.

The upcoming match may evoke some memories, particularly as Rapids defender Lalas Abubakar scored his first MLS goal on Aug.19, 2017, against Orlando while playing for the Columbus Crew. Additionally, homegrown midfielder Cole Bassett, who recently inked a multi-year extension, notched his debut MLS assist on April 6, 2019, also against Orlando. Bassett's assist occurred in the 61st minute, just before he found the net himself in the 71st minute at INTER&CO Stadium.

A few club connections are shared between these sides as Rapids head coach Chris Armas served as an assistant coach at New York Red Bulls while Orlando midfielder Felipe Martins played for the team from 2015-18. Together, they secured the 2015 MLS Supporters' Shield. Rapids forward Rafael Navarro and Orlando City forward Iván Angulo were teammates in Brazil at Botafogo in 2021 while also being part of parent club Palmeiras from 2022-23.

On the other side of the touchline, Orlando City SC head coach Oscar Pareja embarked on his MLS coaching career in 2012 as the head coach of the Rapids, earning his first opportunity in the league. Under his leadership, the Rapids reached the playoffs in 2013, compiling a record of 25-30-13 across two seasons.

While the scrimmage in Orlando will be a closed-door event, fans of the Burgundy and Blue can stay updated on all the action through the official Rapids' social media accounts and for postgame coverage.

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