I am looking forward to this season so much! I feel like a kid on Christmas, and I know I’m not alone. The closer we get to March 4th the more I just blurt out Rapids facts and stats from last year, and I show people that video of Shkëlzen Gashi’s goal against LA Galaxy like it was a picture of my own kid.
But, a good amount of people I talk to don’t know anything about the Colorado Rapids.
Denver is a crowded sports market that is dominated by the Denver Broncos, but the Rapids were the only team out of the five major sports who made the playoffs in 2016 - the only team! Not only that, the Rapids had one of the highest attendance averages in Denver, second only to the Broncos.
So what do they have to do to get talked about more in their home town?
1. Build on last year
Fans didn’t see a loss all season at home until the very end. Every week the team was expected to walk out of DSGP with points and that was an amazing feeling. They don’t need to go undefeated at home again this year, they just can’t lose the last game at home. DSGP was a fortress and it needs to stay that way. Other teams need to understand that it is going to be tough when they come and play here.
That being said, our style last year was just to grind out results at home, usually 1-0. As a fan, this is excruciatingly nerve-racking. I feel like I can speak for all of us when I say 3-0 is nice every once and a while. If fans can expect to see wins at games, more fans will follow.
2. Score On Homegrowns
Putting an emphasis on local players who can produce may help create buzz locally with the fan base. Look at Nat Borchers, the send off and the respect that most Rapids fans have for Borchers is amazing. Conor Casey another local guy is loved here and bringing him home again makes you love the team even more. Serna is a fan favorite, coupled with production he could be a legend.
As Sporting Director Pádraig Smith said, “it’s so much easier for fans to get behind the players that they’ve seen since they were young kids playing in the Development Academy and that are coming from the areas beside them. It helps if you’ve gone on and had the sort of career that Dillon Serna’s already had, and scored some of the goals that Dillon Serna has scored, but there’s always going to be an affinity there with the fans and the local players. I think that’s something that we want to continue to push, and that’s where our priorities have come to lie.”
Continuing to focus on the DA and bringing up players through the system is a great way to draw attention to the team.
3. Score More Goals
We all know this. The team is talking about it, the fans are talking about it - everyone is talking about how the Rapids need to find the back of the net more often and more consistently.
4. Win Some Trophies
This is a town that craves championships. The Rapids have been around since 1996 and only have one MLS Championship Cup. Zero U.S. Open cups, and no Supporters’ Shields. If the Rapids don’t start winning, Denver fans will not take them seriously.
5. Utilize Target Partnership
Target has kickstarted their soccer initiative in 2017 as an official sponsor of MLS, the All-Star Game, Minnesota United, and have also become major contributors to US Soccer. Having a world wide retailer as a league sponsor is huge - it means local Targets will have Rapids shirts, jerseys, even onesies for your little Rapids fan. The exposure will not only help the Rapids locally, but will also help the league on a national level. Plus look at the Target spot, in 48 seconds the Rapids are featured twice, with the Gashi goal and a huge Tim Howard penalty kick save.
Other than making the fan experience better, did we miss anything? What else do the Rapids need to do to get a little credit in Denver?