As the regular season comes to a difficult end, Colorado Rapids find themselves in the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time since 2011. A 3-0 drubbing at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps ensured that the Rapids would finish in fifth place in the Western Conference with a final tally of 51 points. Although that is the highest point total for a Rapids season, the sour taste in the mouths of the Rapids is an opportunity lost. With the defeat on Sunday, the Rapids travel to Seattle to take on the Sounders Wednesday night at 8:30 PM. The Rapids slip the season series with Seattle, but the game at Century Link will be a tough one.
Here is The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Colorado Rapids Week 35.
Making a Playoff Return - Saturday night the Rapids officially clinched an MLS Cup Playoff berth based on other results. It is a tremendous achievement for a team that was terrible in 2012 and jettisoned so many key veterans since the start of that 2012 campaign. With so many rookies and young players taking prominent roles, optimism for the 2013 season was not very high. But with a string of gritty and important results, the Rapids will have the chance to play for their second MLS Cup Championship in four years.
The Vancouver Result - For as good as the Rapids looked at home against Vancouver, they looked equally as bad in British Columbia. Oscar Pareja had said that this game was like a playoff game and if so, the Rapids are in deep trouble based on their performance. They managed two shots on goal and in general looked out-of-sorts. If not for another great performance by Clint Irwin, things could have been much worse.
The Road Ahead - Simply put, the road to another Championship will be, well, on the road. For the Rapids to make an MLS Cup Championship they will have three road games (let alone an MLS Cup final game that will likely be on the road) to contend with. A victory over the Caps would have meant a home game next Saturday and avoiding the knock-out round. Now they will face a Seattle team at home where the Rapids have only had one result (a 2013 draw) since Seattle joined the league. A win on Wednesday will be difficult.
51 points? 14 Wins? Two Rookie of the Year candidates? Defensive Player of the Year candidate? A third string goalkeeper as our starter who tied the Rapids shut out mark? All in all a tremendous year for the Rapids that ended with a playoff berth. Defeating Seattle will not be easy, but with a little belief and hard work, the Rapids can pull off the upset and comeback to Dick's Sporting Goods Park with a victory and advance to the Conference Semi-Finals.