In what might be one of the best nights in the history of Rapids football, the Rapids learned that the New England Revolution had defeated the Kansas City Wizards to give the Rapids their first playoff berth in years and then went out and celebrated the news by handing maybe the best team in the league their asses at their house.
In an interesting game where Wells Thompson of all people was manning the left side of the defense - probably Gary Smith sending Danny Earls a message that his shoddy play over the last couple of games won't be tolerated this close to the playoffs - the Rapids came out very flat as Edson Buddle put one into the net only a minute into the match which was called back offside. He scored again only six minutes later as his shot deflected off of Drew Moor's leg and rainbowed over a stunned Matt Pickens. As I pointed out in the Three Keys to the Game, Los Angeles was 16-0-0 going into today when scoring first so it looked grim.
Then a funny thing happened.
The Rapids started to pick up their game instead of slinking back into the shadows as they seemed to do so many times after conceding earlier this season. Brian Mullan got the credit for a quick goal off a corner kick that deflected into the LA net off of Buddle. Soon after, Conor Casey rocketed a blast into the top of the net off a great cross by Omar Cummings and just like that it was 2-1 for the boys in Burgundy.
In the second half, the defense remained incredibly stout, considering Wells Thompson was hack-a-slashing just about everyone that got near him - everyone who wasn't diving anyway, looking at you David Beckham! - and they kept the potent LA offense out of the net for the rest of the game. Omar Cummings got a goal of his own on a fantastic blast from a Casey pass. Buddle scored another goal in the very late stages that was called offside, taking all the air that remained out of the frustrated Los Angeles side and the crowd at the Home Depot Center.
Forget this game and all the ones that came before it. Momentum is great and the final leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup is next weekend against Real Salt Lake but none of that matters right now. The Rapids are in the playoffs for the first time since they christened Dick's Sporting Goods Park and changed their blues and greens to burgundies. Soak it in. We may not be in the playoffs very long this season or we may go all the way to win the cup, nobody can tell in MLS and that's the wonderful thing about football.
At this point I've got to admit that I'm just happy to be there.
No man or goat of the match today, everyone would just win Man of the Match after that.