Felipe Gutiérrez brings on-ball composure to Colorado Rapids’ attack – The Denver Post

Even after less than a week of training, Felipe Gutiérrez made a remarkable impression in his first game against the Colorado Rapids.

With his second game day on Saturday against Columbus he could be decisive.

Gutiérrez, a 31-year-old Chilean central midfielder, arrived on August 3 for a second spell in Major League Soccer on loan until the end of the season. After last Saturday’s Minnesota United game, Gyasi Zardes, Robin Fraser and Diego Rubio all spoke about his composure on the ball.

As the Rapids and their red-hot offense head into an 11-game skewer to wrap up the 2022 campaign, which includes Saturday’s 7:00 p.m. kick-off against Columbus Crew at the DSGP, it couldn’t come a moment too soon, a weapon like adding Gutiérrez to the arsenal. Colorado (8-9-6, 30 points) is three points below the playoff line with two games to play. Even though it’s about time, his integration into the team has been seamless.

“He’s grown up, he’s confident and he knows who he is – he knows how to help the team,” Rapids head coach Robin Fraser said last weekend. “Bringing in a man like Felipe at the moment is a real boost for us because he is another one who has had great experience and nothing is going to scare him.”

Gutiérrez said he wanted to stay in MLS when he first came to the United States. He made it into the 2014 World Cup squad La Roja, Chile’s national team and played in Spain, Holland and Brazil before joining Sporting Kansas City as a designated player in 2018-20. In his first stint in MLS he excelled with 19 goals in 52 appearances but injuries ensued including a season-ending knee injury in 2020 and he returned to Chile in early 2021 for 2021.

Now that he’s back, he’s ready to prove he can stay in MLS.

“Well the truth is, on a personal level, arriving in MLS is something very positive for me,” Gutiérrez said through a club translator. “(The) Colorado Rapids went above and beyond with my arrival so I could adjust as quickly as possible as we are in this final phase of the season. I’m happy to keep going and I hope to do my part to help the team achieve their goal.”

The goal for this weekend will be difficult against Columbus. The Crew have lost once in their last 11 games due to strong play from new signing Cucho Hernández and Lucas Zelarayán. Three Rapids players used to wear the black and gold: Gyasi Zardes, Lalas Abubakar and the injured 21-year-old Aboubacar Keita.

Colorado’s attack has never been better this season. Diego Rubio (seven straight games with a goal or an assist) and Zardes (five goals in his last six games) have sparked the revival of these Rapids. And having another veteran like Gutiérrez, who played 45 minutes in his debut last weekend, will be crucial in the long run.

“You can tell he’s slowing down the pace of the game. It can be chaotic, but once you give him the ball it’s nice and smooth, very calm,” Zardes said. “He tries to find passes, he attracts defenders that allow other players to be open. I’m excited to see what he brings to the team.”

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