Here's a thing that isn't going to happen: Colorado winning the Supporters' Shield. However, I could, very easily, make a post today about how the Rapids are actually still in contention for the only MLS trophy they've come nowhere near in their history. (I don't count the CONCACAF Champions League as an MLS trophy, but even getting to the group stage of that and winning a game or two could be considered closer than they have gotten to the Shield before, being one of the most consistently middle-of-the-road clubs in the league's history.)
I'm not going to be writing that post. I am, however, going to be writing about how insane it is that we're even considering the possibility. Colorado is, technically, still in the Supporters' Shield race in late September. They're on pace to have the best season, points-wise, in team history, assuming they win their two remaining home games.
They're doing all of this in a FAR better Western Conference than we saw last year, by the way. Consider that this season, the seventh place team in the West (FC Dallas) have a PPG of 1.38. Last season, the bottom five teams in the conference, which included the playoff-bound Whitecaps, all had PPG's worse than that. The Rapids were among them.
Considering all of that, you can see just what an insane turnaround this season really has been. Even if the Rapids miss out on the playoffs, even if the Rapids lose every single one of their immensely important matches in October and end the season with the 45 points that they have right now, it will be impossible to take this season and not see an incredible improvement over 2012.
Yes, they're certainly whimsical fantasies about winning the Shield. For that to happen, the Rapids will almost certainly need to win out in October, and hopefully watch as all four teams ahead of them in the race -- they only have a single game against one of those teams, the Oct. 5 battle with current Shield race leaders Seattle -- drop dreadfully in form. Still, we can say these things with an almost straight face. It's late September, and the Colorado Rapids are currently a dark horse in the Supporters' Shield race.
That's the difference between this year and last. The late season hope this year isn't just on a playoff spot, and in fact most people have them as favorites to get the fourth or fifth spot in the Western standings. What were we talking about in September last year? Whimsical fantasies about even making the playoffs at all. Last year on October 4th, the Rapids were officially out of playoff contention. This season, we'll still be able to think about the Shield for, at the very least, a day longer than that.
That's the most tangible difference between this year and last. It's all about hope.