Because it dropped in the days surrounding the MLS SuperDraft, and the Rapids opening day match against New England on March 4th had already been announced, we kinda forgot to talk about the 2017 MLS Schedule, which was revealed on January 12th.
The Colorado Rapids 2017 schedule, which you can see by clicking on this highlighted link, has a few interesting things to note.
1. We’re on TV a lot more this year.
The Rapids were on a national TV broadcast just two times in the 2016 regular season. That was a well-justified move which I agreed with, considering how bad we were in 2014 and 2015.
The Rapids are on a national US broadcast five times in 2017. Which is better than in 2016, but maybe not totally fair considering we finished second in the Supporters Shield race in 2016.
It has pretty clear explanations. Colorado is not a massive TV market like LA, New York, or Chicago. The Galaxy have sixteen national TV appearances in 2017, including matches on big-boy network over-the-air Fox (as opposed to Fox Sports 1) and on Univision (instead of Unimas). Neither of the Rapids-Galaxy meetings will be nationally televised. New York Red Bulls are on national TV fifteen times. The Chicago Fire are on TV six times, and they’ve had a losing record for the past four consecutive seasons. In such a big media market, they’d surely have more were it not for the fact that they’ve been bad for years, and have eroded their fan base as a result.
Additionally, the Rapids biggest star is a goalkeeper, not an outfield player. The team lacks a major Mexican or Central American star that might be a draw to Univision or Unimas. And the brand of soccer the Rapids play is low-scoring, defensive football, which isn’t a big draw for the TV executives.
So you might think five TV appearances is a grave injustice. I’m fine with it, personally.
2. March and April are well balanced. May is cupcake month.
Here’s the Rapids schedule to start the year.
New England were a good, well-balanced mid-table type team. With Juan Agudelo, Kei Kamara, and Lee Nguyen in attack, they can’t be all bad. With two guys at CB named Angoua and Delamea, and the somewhat unreliable Bobby Shuttlesworth at GK, they can’t be very good either. The Red Bulls were a top playoff team in 2016, but also just unloaded Dax McCarty, and started 2016 veeeeeery slowly. So that’s a winnable game for the Rapids, but not an easy one on the road in New Jersey. And Minnesota? The word that comes to mind is in Yiddish: kockeputzi. It means a thrown-together mishmash. Collen Warner did not impress me last year as a d-mid with Houston. Kevin Molino is great, when healthy. Miguel Ibarra plays a vertical, north-south game as a winger. And only Ibarra and Cristian Ramirez have ever played together. I think we go 1-1-1 in March.
Dallas is a tough opponent. Sporting KC, RSL, and Orlando are all quality opponents, but eminently beatable. Minnesota is, as mentioned above, a certain point, or perhaps three.
And May? Did you know May 1 was National Parfait day? That May 8 is National Coconut Cream Pie day? And May 13 is National Apple Pie day? All of that is fitting for the Rapids, at least regarding the schedule - May is all tasty desserts for Colorado.
Vancouver and San Jose missed the playoffs last year: of course they’ll be rerrin’ to go and hoping they can turn it around in 2017, but I didn’t see a ton of big moves that imply that this year will be better than last year.
The Fire have been awful for years. They DID actually bring in some impressive reinforcements for 2017. Nemanja Nikolic will start up top alongside Michael DeLeeuw, who impressed in the half-season he played in 2016. The midfield was reinforced with two excellent holding midfielders: Juninho and Dax McCarty. Still, the Fire have to put it all together quickly, and recent history suggests that they’ll still be somewhere between mediocre and bad.
Philadelphia were the East Coast Rapids in 2016, in that they surprised the league and were pretty good. They basically fell apart after July though. We’ll see which version is the real Union. SKC and LA are on the tougher end of things, but May can be a 10-point or better month for Colorado if they get it right.
3. The end of the season will be hard as hell.
This is the list of our last six game of the year.
Vancouver shouldn’t be too tough. Everyone else on this list made the playoffs in 2016, and look just as good or, in Seattle’s case, better than last year. Ending the year away to Seattle is brutal, especially if the Rapids need those points for Supporters Shield, to avoid a knockout game, or (gulp) if they’re teetering on the edge of the playoffs.
Those are my initial thoughts. Do you see the schedule differently? Do you have a game that you’re most looking forward to? Least looking forward to? Is there a must-see game at DSGP that you noticed? Let us know down below in the comments.