There's nothing like home opener, regardless of weather. We’ve had them with cold and snow, and we’ve had them like Saturday! Sixty-five degrees, sunny skies, just enough breeze in the air to make this day and absolutely phenomenal day for a home opener (sorry for those of you who wanted another Snow Classico). I know it's only been three months since the last game was played, but this day couldn't get here soon enough.
I try to give credit where credit is due, so I have to admit ...
My boys and I count down the days until the kick-off. One of my boys, when he saw the stadium set against the Rocky Mountains, just couldn't contain himself—he was stoked. The day (the hour!) had finally arrived. The home opener. Would 2017 start off like 2016 did, with a win on opening day?
And did this game deliver? Absolutely. Yes, the refereeing was quite questionable. Our beloved editor wrote recently about the emphases MLS has laid out for the referees for 2017. Some of their calls during the second half were lame at best, irresponsible at worse.
But still, the Rapids created chances with a more aggressive style of play, the defense was a stout as ever, and the unbeaten regular season streak continued! Not bad for a new season that started minus Shkëlzen Gashi and Tim Howard.
I'm not sure really what this season holds, but here are some things that I look forward to, both on the field and off.
1.Spending time with my kids. I'll start off with one that's personal. There is nothing like going to the game with my boys. I have twin boys, and they couldn't be more different. One of my boys keeps a close eye on the game, while my other son keeps a close eye on the people in the stands. He's not a really big soccer lover, but he enjoys being with his family. (And that's all right with me.) We plant ourselves on the back row of Section 121 most every home game, and cheer on our boys.
Quick story: A couple of years ago, when it was 0-0 at the half, the Rapids were coming toward the south stands. I whispered to one of my boys, “I told the Rapids to wait until the second half so they would score in front of you.” Naturally, he was skeptical—until they scored five minutes later. I gave him a knowing look, and he asked, “Dad, did you really do that?” I shrugged and said, “No, there’s no way I could arrange that. But that would have been cool, right?” Stockpiling memories, gang! Nothing like it!
2. Seeing the offense get going and score some goals. Granted, the Rapids should have won 2-0 (Doyle’s goal should have counted), but with Howard/MacMath in goal along with the Burgundy Fearsome Foursome in back, the Rapids won’t give up many goals this season either. A boatload of 1-0 games is not ideal, but a win is a win. I honestly believe when the Rapids get their stride and keep attacking, goals will come.
3. MLS is gaining some credibility. Looking over the MLS landscape, and seeing Orlando City’s and Atlanta United’s home opener, we are past the conversation about whether soccer will stick. Soccer in the states is here to stay. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing MLS to other world leagues. MLS has its own special flare whose on-field product is increasing markedly every year (which I will outline in a future article). I believe we are in for a special 2017, league-wide.
Yes, #MLSisBack. Our Rapids are back! Let’s come and welcome Minnesota United at DSGP on Saturday the 18th at 7 pm.
P.S. Did anyone else prefer a 4 pm start? I could get used to that.