In many ways, 2013 has been a stunning season for the Colorado Rapids. But good feelings don't typically win games, and the team is about to face a brutal stretch of games that will determine whether this season is a moral victory or one that actually continues into the playoffs.
Let's recap the club's progress this season:
- The Rapids traded four faces of the franchise yet managed to avoid a rebuilding year,
- The front office learned how to draft,
- The team paid to get a real announcer for Altitude,
- Attendance is up (at home, and on the road),
- The season ticket holder base and supporter group membership continue to grow,
- and the team is consistently getting results in a very tough western conference.
Things have been going so well for Colorado that Stan Kroenke shelled out a transfer fee to sign a designated player (Start checking the skies for pigs. Go buy a lotto ticket. Next thing you know, Kroenke's Arsenal will buy a 40 million pound player and play him in the middle with bigfoot). These are heady times for Colorado fans. The team is playing well, and fans and ownership are noticing in meaningful ways.
But a moment of truth, a challenging opportunity, is staring the team in the face. For all the deserved accolades the club has received for the nine game unbeaten streak (that just ended with the stinker in Kansas) and the unexpected success overall this season, the Rapids sit fourth in the playoff standings (with five teams making the postseason). But really, they sit fifth in the more accurate 'points-per-game' standings, with two teams just a fraction behind them. The Rapids, for all the good that has come this season, are very much in danger of missing out on the playoffs. Getting one of the coveted top 3 seeds is already a longshot at best, and with seven difficult games remaining (all against western conference, playoff-contending teams), the time is now for the Rapids to seize this opportunity, dig deep and win some must-win games.
We will soon see if the game against Sporting Kansas City was a blip the Rapids can quickly overcome, or a sign of things to come; the end of a record-tying streak, or the beginning of the end to a surprising season.