The second that the schedules were out for MLS this season, the Colorado Rapids looked to be in a tight jam come summer, with a fairly innocuous June leading into what I probably should have termed at the time 'the July from Hell.' (Had I done that, I could have posted a link to something back then that would make it seem like I wasn't making this stuff up as I go along.)
The Rapids will be playing seven games in July, a loaded schedule that includes a full week of rest only once and three games away at some of the hardest places to play in the entire league. Join me after the jump for a short look at the seven games we'll be seeing the Rapids play in July.
July 3rd vs. Houston - That's right, we got screwed out of our July 4th game! Hopefully this still counts, as the Rapids are notoriously hard to beat during 'Fourth Fest' with an all time record on July 4th of 11-2-2. The record was an even more impressive 11-2-1 until last year when the New York Red Bulls came into a torrential downpour and drew the Rapids after a goal for Colorado was controversially called back. Hopefully the weather - and the result - will be better this year. At the very least, the two game losing streak is very likely to end.
July 6th @ Kansas City - This one is going to be a doozy. LIVESTRONG is already getting a reputation as a tough place to go into and get a result despite the small number of matches played there so far. On three days rest against a Sporting Kansas City team that's finally starting to find its legs after that tough start to the year, it will be a tall order for the Rapids to get a result here unless they're at full strength with a bit of luck.
July 9th vs. Vancouver - Probably the second most winnable game next to the Houston match this month. Vancouver has been fairly easy to defeat on the road, although Colorado will be at the tail end of one of them "three games in nine days" jobs. Vancouver will be coming off a similar thing with ten days substituted for nine, but it will still probably be hard fought. Vancouver may not have enough to win on the road often but they have gotten some results like that brilliant 2-2 draw in Seattle.
July 16th @ Seattle - The Rapids are very lucky that they're getting a week of rest before this one, a game that will no doubt be the toughest of the month. Not only will the game be in Seattle - a place that the Rapids have never managed to win - but it will no doubt feature Brian Mullan in the starting XI for the Rapids. If you recall, Seattle fans aren't too fond of him at the moment. This one might be painful.
July 20th vs. New York - NYRB are a tough nut to crack anywhere, but the Rapids held their own against them earlier in the season. Doing it at home with no De Rosario to worry about - he was the one who kept torturing the Rapids during that last match - will be slightly easier. Still, a draw is probably what we can expect out of this one if the Rapids keep up their form as predictably as the season has gone.
July 23rd vs. New England - This should turn out better than the last time these two teams met when it was a Revs dominated 0-0 draw. NE seem to have somehow gotten worse as the season has gone along; it's probably a good thing that most of the home games in this July stretch are against the weaker teams in the league because the Rapids will need ideally to get all 12 points out of DSGP if they can with the tough road matches.
July 29th @ Philly - And the month ends on another doozy. The Rapids have only played once in Philly before and drew that match but that was against the very weak Philly team from last year. This year will be a lot more tough on the legs of the away side. On the bright side, Philly games do tend to be low scoring so maybe the Rapids will get lucky, eh?
I'm getting a potential record of 3-2-2 out of the month if the Rapids are healthy the entire time and coach Smith figures out this discipline and roster problem that's been plaguing them. Even then, that's mostly because of the three easier home games. Considering the fact that the later months of the year contain no more than four games for the Rapids each, July is pretty much going to be the make or break month for this team's playoff hopes. Good time to go on such a terrible run of form, eh?