Colorado Rapids July Preview

USA TODAY Sports

With the Colorado Rapids in second place in the Western Conference gong into July and the Seattle Sounders more or less running away with the top spot here's what the Rapids will have to deal with in the Portland All-Star month.

The Rapids only have two games at home in the month of July. The annual July 4th game with the Columbus Crew and the 28th Chivas USA visits the DSG park. With Dillon Powers dominant play this past weekend in the Rapids victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the brilliance of the wizard Vicente Sanchez the Rapids used the World Cup break to their full advantage. With a few tough road trips to Portland, Philadelphia, and New England the Rapids have a tough month ahead. Here's some early previews of the matches through the month of July with a few added notes for proper perspective of the Rapids.

  • July 4th- Rapids vs. Columbus Crew: The Rapids have dominated this series as of late by winning the past four matches against the Crew. With the Rapids run of play against the Eastern Conference this season, (3-2-1), This yearly tradition game in Colorado will be an important contest. I've been a season ticket holder for a few years now but I never missed the Fourth of July Rapids games especially at the old MIle High Stadium and Sports Authority Field @ Mile High. Marcelo Balboa's Golden Goal in extra time is a cherished memory of my childhood. It was when I fell in love with the beautiful game. Jose Mari being injured and out for several weeks is going to hurt the Rapids. This match against the Crew is imperative to get a result.
  • July 12th- Rapids @ Union Altitude TV: The Rapids have traded the Union road victories the last few years. Last years Rapids home loss featured Steward Ceus' last start for the Colorado Rapids in MLS competition. It was at that point I believed the Rapids could make the playoffs. So I guess the Ceus supporters were wrong. I would be pleased with any result here.
  • July 18th- Rapids @ Timbers 9PM NBCsports: The site of the worst performance of the season for the Rapids last year in the 3-0 drubbing the eventual regular season winners of the Western Conference. The Rapids will look for revenge in Portland's Providence Park. Last season the Timbers were unbeaten at home after the month of March. This year so far they have a negative goal differential at home and find themselves a John Spencer like 7th place in the Western Conference. A national television audience should boost the Rapids effort and hope a result here would be a boon to the Rapids playoff chances.
  • July 25th- Rapids vs. Chivas USA AltitudeTV: Wilmer Cabrera and the Goats will return to DSG Park for their second visit of the season. The first visit was a former Rapid revenge match. Martin Rivero and Marvin Chavez totaled two goals and an assist as Chivas beat down the Rapids 3-1. Chivas still occupy the bottom of the West and probably will be there when they show up near the end of July. So hopefully the Rapids can capitalize on this game and beat the teams they are supposed to... namely the dregs of the league where Chivas USA currently reside.
  • July 30th- Rapids @ Revolution Altitude TV- A mid-week visit to New England will probably be a challenge for the Rapids since the next Rocky Mountain Cup showdown and only visit of the season of Real Salt Lake will make this inter-conference match not mean as much as defending the Cup. New England's recent form of three straight losses might be a factor but who knows what that will be at the end of the month. Hopefully Jose Mari will return to the starting 11 for the Rapids by this point so he can have some game minutes in time for the Salt Lake match-up which is three days later.
The Rapids have made the half-way mark of the season in a pretty good spot. Second place in the West with a rookie head coach and a very young team. The U.S. Open Cup match against the Atlanta Silverbacks will be forgotten in time with good results from July. Winning at home and drawing on the road is a great formula to getting home playoff games come November.

The Rapids avoided last years June swoon and are near the top of the West, but staying there will be a test of the Rapids leadership. What Colorado did to Vancouver last weekend was send a message to the rest of the league and that message is they're hungry for more. I don't want the Rapids to peak right now but show sustained effort and be dangerous while avoiding injuries and the Edson Buddle black hole factor. If he could get his 100th MLS goal this weekend and then ride of into the sunset back to wherever he came from would be nice. Although him going in is a sign of a Rapids victory so maybe we can call him the victory cigar. That being said I have a good feeling about this team and can't wait for a home playoff game tailgate and seeing how this squad can fares in a winner take all tournament. The month of July isn't the hardest schedule the Rapids will face but I believe the old cliche is you can't make the playoffs in July but you can put your team out of the playoffs in July.
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