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Rapids look to move closer in West, welcome Austin FC

The Colorado Rapids will try to stay close to the top of the Western Conference standings when they host resurgent Austin FC on Wednesday in a key late-season match in Commerce City, Colo.

The Rapids (12-4-9, 45 points) return to the pitch after a home scoreless draw with Toronto on Saturday that extended Colorado’s unbeaten streak to 11 games, the longest active run in MLS. Goalie William Yarbrough was called on to make just two saves for Colorado in Saturday’s draw and has 10 clean sheets on the season, tied for tops in the league.

The Rapids have recorded four consecutive draws, dating back to a road win in San Jose on Sept. 4 and have not lost since a 3-0 defeat at Real Salt Lake on July 24.

“In the last four games, we’ve created enough chances to win and also we made enough mistakes to lose points, meaning there’s generally one or two mistakes that led to something that led to the game being tied,” Rapids coach Robin Fraser said. “Each game has something that was slightly different, things that we could be a little bit better at.”

Colorado is in third place in the West, one point behind second-place Sporting Kansas City and three in back of conference-leading Seattle with nine matches left on its regular-season schedule.

Austin (6-16-4, 22 points) hits the road after a 2-0 home victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday that snapped a five-game losing streak. It got its goals in the win from players who weren’t even with the team two months ago in Senegalese international Moussa Djitte and homegrown Orrin McKinze Gaines II.

Djitte, who has played in just seven matches for Austin, scored his first goal in the United States in his second start. Gaines II, playing in just his second game with the MLS team, became the first ever player born in Austin to score for the expansion team.

Brad Stuver was rock-solid in goal for Austin FC to secure his fifth shutout of the season.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” Austin FC coach Josh Wolff said after the win. “But our guys are grinders and have it in them. From the start tonight it was a collective, professional performance.”

Even with the win, Austin FC still rests at the bottom of the West standings, four points in arrers of 12th place Houston with eight matches remaining.

“We don’t get it all right all the time, but there’s a lot of good moments all year that we’ve been building on,” Wolff said. “There’s a lot of things to build on from this.”

The teams have split their two matches this season.

–Field Level Media

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