So. The Colorado Rapids battled to a 1-1 draw at the StubHub against the LA Galaxy. Shkelzen Gashi hit that bomb, Tim Howard was a beast, and one breakdown on defense could have given them three points and put them just one point behind FC Dallas. But still—a point on the road in LA is choice and we move on.
And move on the Rapids do—to a very interesting six game stretch. Parity in MLS makes the fan experience much different than, say, the Premier League or the Bundesliga. Any team can win on any given Saturday, and there are no cupcakes. For the Rapids, there are really no cupcakes with those coming up.
What should we look for in this six game stretch for the Rapids?
The West is Stellar at Home, Rapids Solid on the Road
The last two months of the playoff race in the West is shaping up to be an epic clash of at least five teams, all with a chance to win the West. Consider the top four in the West: FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy, and Real Salt Lake. They are a combined 30-0-18 (W-L-T) at home. That’s right, Rapids fans. The Rapids have not lost a game at home, but neither have the other three in competition for the Western conference crown.
What sets them apart is that FC Dallas have each won three more than the Galaxy or RSL (9-0-3 vs 6-0-6). The Galaxy are sliiiiightly better on the road (3-3-5) than the Rapids (2-3-6), and both are decidedly better than FC Dallas (4-6-2) and RSL (4-8-2). Given that the Rapids are on the road four of the next six games, their road form (should it continue) will bode well for them in their positioning for the playoffs.
Who Do the Rapids Play in the Next Six Games, You Ask?
You could tear yourself away from this post and look, but why when it’s one of the many free services the Burgundy Wave offers.
- 8⁄20: Home against Orlando City SC
- 8⁄26: At Real Salt Lake (nationally televised on UniMas)
- 9⁄3: At New England Revolution
- 9⁄10: At FC Dallas
- 9⁄17: Home against San Jose
- 9⁄24: At Vancouver
New York City FC aside, I have every confidence that our Rapids can defeat a struggling Orlando City team and a struggling New England team, even on the road. Full disclosure? That Friday night game in late August against RSL and their trip to FC Frisco on September 10th (say it with me) will be huge. Duh, right?
But that takes us back to that road form they’ve shown thus far, and should encourage us as Rapids fans moving ahead. The Rapids have shown they can hang with any MLS team. The 1-0 loss at Rio Tinto back a hundred years ago fielded a different Rapids team not just in personnel but in confidence and resolve.
Can Pablo Continue to Lead Well? I Don’t See Why Not
I’ve not only been impressed with Pablo Mastroeni’s coaching this year—I’m proud of him. Some will say that he’s the same old Pablo with a bunch of old guys and that the same problems exist underneath it all. I try not to be homeristically positive about the Rapids (which was put to the test in 2014 and 2015), but I look at it that the Front Office spent some coin to bring in veteran leadership to help our talented youngsters. Plus, Mastroeni’s improved in his substitutions, showing a rather deft touch.
Like any coach who is evolving tactically, the pressure of the home stretch and the playoff run could tempt Mastroeni to revert back to his old habits (calling Brett Favre, NFC Championship, Vikings vs. Saints, 2009, among a ton of others). If the Rapids make a deep run in the playoffs, he could be in the running for both Coach of the Year and Comeback Human Being of the Year. As of now, the Rapids’ patience with Mastroeni is paying off.
What will you look for during this next six game stretch? Can we run it with 18 points? Will you settle for home wins and away ties (10 points)? (Psst, the answer to that last question is, “Uh, nope!”)
I see a win against Orlando City, New England, and San Jose. I also believe we can legitimately win against Real Salt Lake. That’s up to 12. The keys are how they play at Dallas and at Vancouver.
Talk to me. How do you see the next six games shaking out?