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Know your Rapids history: 2007-2017

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Everything you need to know about the recent years of the Colorado Rapids.

2010 MLS Cup - FC Dallas v Colorado Rapids Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

Whether you’re a total newbie to the Colorado Rapids (welcome!), you want to brush up on your team history, or you’re somewhere in between, this is for you. This second article in the series covers the last 10 years of the team, starting with the opening of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

We’ve got you covered for where they played, highlights (aka what you need to know about what happened), coaches, fan favorites, and Gallery of Honor inductees. If you missed our article on the first 10 years, go read this first.

2007 – 2017

Stadium

Dicks Sporting Goods Park (opened April 7, 2007 v DC United 2-1 win)

Kits

The Burgundy and blue color scheme was adopted to align with other KSE teams. The shield-style logo, which is still currently used, was introduced as part of the 2007 re-branding.

Jersey Sponsorship

In May 2014, they teamed up with Ciao Telecom to be their first jersey sponsor. After just six months the club sued Ciao for missed payments. Starting in 2015 they agreed with Transamerica and have since extended the contract through the 2019 season.

The DSG Park Era Begins

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park opened its doors on April 7, 2007 and the team earned a 2-1 win vs DC United. Not only were the Rapids opening the 2007 season in a brand-new, soccer specific stadium, they also were re-inventing their image. In order to more closely align with other Kroenke teams, the shield logo, which is still used today, was introduced and the club changed their colors to burgundy and blue. The 2007 season was expected to bring big things: this re-branding was looked at as a step in the right direction and then the Front Office announced international partnerships with Arsenal (England) and Pachuca (Mexico).

Under head coach Fernando Clavijo, a 10-game winless streak derailed their chance to reach the playoffs for a sixth straight year. Their defense was tied for third fewest goals-against but they could not find a consistent scoring threat (insert joke here).

The final match of 2007 saw their arch rivals Real Salt Lake come into Dick’s for a match that not only would decide the Rocky Mountain Cup, but would also put the Rapids into the playoffs with a win. While a goal did not come, RSL snuck one in late and if you’ve been following this team since then, you remember the feeling when the final whistle blew. RSL took the trophy home with them and one of Colorado’s worst-ever season’s (9-13-8) was over.

Club Highlights after 2007

2008 (11-14-5) – In August, Clavijo and the team agreed to part ways and interim Gary Smith was brought in mid-season. Christian Gomez and Pablo Mastroeni represented the club in the All-Star Game. After qualifying for the playoffs from 2002-2006 and missing out in 2007, they again failed to make it after drawing with RSL at Dick’s in the final match.

2009 (10-10-10) – Earning an 8-2-5 record at home, Conor Casey and Omar Cummings both had career seasons. After an unbeaten streak of eight matches and a winless streak of seven, the stage was again set for Colorado to make the playoffs and reclaim the Rocky Mountain Cup. For the third year in a row, RSL spoiled the Rapids season on the final match and took home the Cup.

2010 (12-8-10) MLS Cup Champions! In a season that saw the club finish 5th in the West, they began the playoffs in the Eastern Conference bracket. Involved in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, their first matchup was against Columbus Crew.

On October 28, 2010 the Crew came into Denver for leg one and left with a 1-0 loss, thanks to a 23rd minute goal from Mastroeni in front of 11,872 fans. After the win, belief was high in the group as they traveled to Columbus for leg two.

On November 6, 2010 the Rapids were down 2-0 in the 84th minute when Conor Casey became a hero by scoring a goal to bring the match to 2-1. Tied 2-2 on aggregate after 180 minutes, the two teams went to a penalty shootout to determine the winner. In front of a crowd of 10,322, the Rapids did not miss a kick while Columbus missed their final one and it was Colorado who was moving on to the Eastern Conference Final.

The playoff structure in 2010 did not include two legs for the Conference Finals. Based on the fact the Rapids finished 5th and the San Jose Earthquakes finished 6th in the West, it would be Colorado who hosted the Eastern Conference (?) Finals match.

The match was a reward of sorts for the supporters who had been there all season. That night on November 13, a crowd of 17,779 was at Dick’s to witness something special. With a goal in the 42nd minute from right-back Kosuke Kimura, the club was headed back to their second MLS Cup.

On November 21, under the stars in Toronto, the first MLS Cup played outside the country featured two teams from the Western Conference, the Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas. Boasting the league’s fourth and sixth leading goal scorers in Cummings (14) and Casey (13), the Rapids were poised for an upset.

To start the match it was Cummings and Casey who led the attack, while Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne anchored the defense. Rapids started in a 4-4-2 with goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the back and through the midfield was (left to right) Jamie Smith, Jeff Larentowicz, Mastroeni, and Brian Mullan.

During a first half that saw few scoring chances created by Colorado, it was FC Dallas who found the first breakthrough of the match in the 35th minute. Announced as the league MVP prior to the match, David Ferreira buried a cross from George John to give Dallas the lead at halftime.

During a frantic season half, the Rapids found the back of the net when Casey scored in the 57th minute. Driving down the left flank, Brian Mullan sent a low cross into the box which was met with a collision between Casey and Dallas keeper Kevin Hartman. With the ball sitting between them, Casey was the first to see it and shuffled it in while sitting on the ground six yards out.

Tied after 90 minutes, the match headed to extra time. In the 107th minute, in a play in which Macoumba Kandji tore his ACL, the Rapids scored to go ahead 2-1. After dancing with the ball in the box, Kandji sent in a toe-poke towards goal that hit off George John and went into the back of the net (officially scored as an own-goal).

After dropping back and putting their entire focus into defending, Dallas would find a few more chances near the end of the extra time. It wasn’t meant to be for them though as Colorado would hold on to win 2-1 and claim their first MLS Cup Championship!

2011 (12-9-13) – In defense of their first championship, the Rapids reached the quarterfinals of the playoffs but high expectations led to Gary Smith out of a job. They signed Sanna Nyassi and Tyrone Marshall from Seattle. The also signed Irish International and former Hull City striker, Caleb Folan.

2012 (11-19-4) Oscar Pareja was brought in as head coach and they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Pareja brought an attack-minded, possession-based style and the roster was changed to mimic that with the additions of Jaime Castrillon, Luis Zapata, Martin Rivero and Hendry Thomas.

2013 (14-11-9) – After a poor first season, Pareja continued to work with Bravo to overhaul the roster. They drafted Dillon Powers and signed Gabriel Torres and Vicente Sanchez. With only five players remaining from the team that won the Cup, the team was focused on getting younger, more athletic players. They retained the Rocky Mountain Cup after six seasons of it being with RSL. After being eliminated in the knockout round of the playoffs, Pareja announced his desire to return to FC Dallas.

2014 (8-18-8) – Pablo Mastroeni took over as head coach after retiring from play at the end of the 2013 season. With a roster full of players designed for Pareja’s 4-3-3 system, the team struggled and finished 17th overall. The team did not win a match in their final 14 and RSL took back the Rocky Mountain Cup trophy.

2015 (9-15-10) -- While the front office continued to show faith in Pablo, the team also continued to struggle, finishing last in the Western Conference. Their 33 goals scored were worst in the league, with their DP striker, Gabriel Torres only scoring four in 25 matches.

2016 (15-6-13) – After missing the playoffs the previous two seasons, the Rapids more than exceeded the expectations put on them from outsiders. With a belief in each other and a comfortable head coach who finally had his system in place, the club had their best regular season ever. With the additions of Shkelzen Gashi, Jermaine Jones, and Tim Howard the team was unbeaten at Dick’s, finished second in the Supporter’s Shield, and made it to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the eventual MLS Cup Champs (Seattle Sounders).

***

Colorado Rapids Head Coaches from 2007 – Present

Dec. 2004 – Aug. 2008: Fernando Clavijo

Nov. 2008 – Nov. 2011: Gary Smith

Jan. 2012 – Jan. 2014: Oscar Pareja

March 2014 – present: Pablo Mastroeni

Fan Favorites

Pablo Mastroeni – Current head coach and club legend, Pablo is admired for his grit and determination. The way he currently leads the team and the vision he has set is a direct relation to his time as a player. He is the club’s all-time leader in games played (225) and minutes played (18,669). He sent the Rapids on their way to winning the 2010 MLS Cup with his 23rd minute goal to secure a valuable 1-0 home win against the Columbus Crew in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Drew Moor – Currently a center back for Toronto FC, Moor is second all-time in games played (181) and minutes played (16,127). He had an outstanding time with the club, winning MLS Cup and anchoring the back line from 2009-2015. After the 2015 season, Colorado chose to not re-sign Moor and he went to Toronto as a free agent.

Herculez GomezThe player who scored the first MLS goal at Dick’s had a short career with the Rapids. A member of the 2010 US World Cup team and currently covering soccer for ESPN, it brings a nice feeling to remember that Gomez wore burgundy.

Jeff Larentowicz – The starting center midfielder alongside Pablo in the 2010 MLS Cup Final. Larentowicz anchored the midfield from 2010-2012 and also received four caps for USMNT during that time. Known as “ginger ninja,” no one will forget his red hair, even if he is still in the league (Atlanta United).

Conor Casey – The club’s all-time leader in goals scored (50 goals in 119 matches). After beginning his career in 2000 in the German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund and Mainz 05, he found his way to the Rapids in 2007. He ended the 2009 season with 16 goals and was named to the MLS Best XI that year. The following season, he and Omar Cummings caused havoc for opponents on their way to winning MLS Cup where Casey was named MVP. He is currently the Rapids’ assistant coach.

Omar Cummings – During his time with the club, 2007-2012, he was in the prime of his career, and suited up for Jamaica 35 times. Cummings is fifth all-time in games played (148), the majority of that time spent with Casey. Cummings is third all-time with 39 goals scored and his 27 assists put him fourth overall.

Macoumba Kandji – Remember him?! He was the player whose shot went off of an FC Dallas defender for the own-goal that gave the Rapids a 2-1 lead (and trophy) in the MLS Cup Final.

Jermaine Jones – One of the most prominent players to put on a Rapids jersey during the Dick’s Sporting Goods Park era. After numerous successful stops in Europe, mainly in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen, and Schalke 04, Jones found his way to the Rapids in 2016. Playing only nine matches due to suspension and injury, he was a significant contributor on and off the pitch, but we will never get to see what could’ve truly been for him in burgundy.

Tim Howard – The “Secretary of Defense” is the current fan favorite for the club and goes on a very small list of world-prominent players to have worn a Rapids uniform. In my opinion he is the club’s biggest ever signing. The Rapids Front Office did outstanding work to acquire the US Soccer legend and we should be grateful for whatever time he spends in Denver.

Gallery of Honor Inductees from 2007 – Present

Chris Henderson (inducted 2007)

John Spencer (inducted 2009)

Pablo Mastroeni (inducted 2014)

Read more about the Gallery of Honor inductees here.