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Ten Keys To 2013 - No. 9: Starting Strong

A strong start with a tough early schedule will be vital to Colorado's success in 2013.

Doug Pensinger

With only 10 days remaining until first kick against FC Dallas, Burgundy Wave is counting down the 10 biggest keys to the 2013 season.

There has been a lot of talk in recent years about a 'Summer Swoon' for the Colorado Rapids. That is to say, the Rapids have earned a reputation as a team that starts hot, cools down during the summer months and then usually goes on something of a run late into the year. (Just about every season since 2009 fits that model, I suppose.)

Well, summer swoons aren't the concern this time around. Certainly, there are some tough matches in the summer on the schedule, but the first six games of 2013 are going to be of vital importance if the team wants some momentum to start the year off.

Check it:

March 2nd: at FC Dallas
March 9th: vs. Philadelphia Union
March 16th: at Real Salt Lake
March 23rd: at LA Galaxy
March 30th: vs. Portland Timbers
April 6th: vs. Real Salt Lake

Ouch, that's a tough six-game start. Two games against Salt Lake, who the Rapids have only defeated once in the last several seasons, on a Joseph Nane miracle last year, two other very tough road games and two home games against teams that rebuilt themselves over the off-season.

Colorado could just as easily go 4-1-1 against all of those teams as they could 1-4-1 or 1-1-4, and the second two options have to be creeping through our minds. Early points are going to be vital, because with a young team that might not be brimming with confidence it's going to be hard to see a playoff berth on the horizon if they're midway through April with a 'Summer Swoon' approaching and no points.