The Swansea City side set to see the Rapids today in Commerce City surprised even die-hard British fans last season in the English Premier League.
Swansea — the only Welsh team in Britain’s top league — was promoted to the EPL in 2011. But instead of immediately relegating back down, the Swans shot up to the middle of the league, going 12-11-15.
“Everybody expected them to go down again,” Arsene Wenger, manager of London’s Arsenal, said last season. “And they have done not only reasonably well, but remarkably well.”
The Swans are in Colorado to face the Rapids today in an international friendly at 7 p.m. at DSG Park. It’s the first of three American exhibitions for Swansea during their EPL preseason.
It will be the Rapids’ first game against an English team since 2008, when Everton took a 2-1 win in Colorado.
Swansea last season earned two victories over Clint Dempsey’s Fulham, and impressive wins over Arsenal, Manchester City, Aston Villa and Liverpool.
The Swans likely won’t take their game against Colorado lightly. It will be just their second game under new coach Michael Laudrup (former boss Brendan Rodgers moved to Liverpool after last season).
And Swansea could test out new, high-priced signings, including: Michu, formerly of Spain’s La Liga; Chico, once of Italy’s Serie A; and Jonathan de Guzman, who arrived on loan from Spain’ second division.
All three players are on Swansea’s traveling roster, as is Danny Graham, its top scorer last season, and Stephen Dobbie, a high-scorer in 2010-11 who returns this season.
The game, too, could draw the curiosity of English fans wondering about Stan Kroenke’s “other team” — the Rapids’ owner also owns England’s Arsenal.
The Rapids enter on a five-game losing skid in MLS, with coach Oscar Pareja and players looking to right their ship. Colorado returns to league action Saturday against visiting Seattle.