When the Colorado Rapids won MLS Cup last season, they did it thanks to two pairings. One was up top with Conor Casey and Omar Cummings as forwards and the other was in the center of the midfield, where Pablo Mastroeni and Jeff Larentowicz stopped pretty much any attack coming their way. The result was a very boring and ugly team, but a very successful one in the playoffs that netted them a trophy.
As they head into this year's playoffs, they're a very different team. Conor Casey has been out for months with a torn Achilles and won't be back for the postseason so there goes that dangerous tag team at striker. Pablo Mastroeni is also out now too with a concussion, meaning that menacing pairing in the center of the pitch has been broken up. The Rapids' ultra defensive, break everything up and boot it up field so Casey and Cummings can make something out of nothing strategy? It's not really an option anymore.
So what are the Rapids trying to do without Casey and now without Mastroeni? They're trying to get offensive, which is basically unheard of from the Bore in the Rockies. They tried playing Sanna Nyassi up top with Cummings at the end of the regular season, but that proved ineffective so in their wild card round win, they played Nyassi in the midfield and Caleb Folan at forward with Cummings. It was the most attacking lineup the Rapids could feature, which is a shocking mindset from Colorado.
The results weren't very good. Part of that could be chalked up to playing the Crew, who excel at turning matches ugly, but the reality is that they are a team that lacks skill. Their lone goal came from Kosuke Kimura and Cummings, two of the only players worth watching. Even so, the fact that they even tried to go offensive is a step forward and with Mastroeni unavailable to play with Larentowicz in the destroyer role, defensive isn't really an option.
On Sunday, the Rapids get Sporting Kansas City and it is at home so if they are going to attack in any leg, this is it. Now that they aren't playing the Crew, maybe their attacking mindset can pay off. If better because defensive against Sporting without Mastroeni and Cummings will definitely not pay off.