Why I’m a fan of the Colorado Rapids

How can love and devotion like this be restrained to 300-500 words, so I apologize in advance.

While my father was stationed in Frankfurt Germany he and I fell in love with soccer and with Eintracht Frankfurt. We went to every game and watched amazing players like Uwe Bein, Stefan Effenburg, Andreas Moller and Tony Yeboah. In 1991 we moved to Colorado Springs and looked to continue our father-son bonding experience. There was nothing locally but thanks to the Soccer America magazine we soon discovered the Colorado Foxes. Instead of the large Waldstadion with tall fences, intimidating German cops, guard dogs, flairs and tens of thousands of fans chanting in a bizarre foreign tongue we were introduced to the Englewood High School Stadium, the same stadium where I would later play my state playoff games. Fans and players entered the stadium thru the same gate, the players were friendly and welcomed the attention, fans were polite and cheered when appropriate. It was a new experience for me. It was small, it was mine, and the best part was that fans could hear every explicative the players shouted. It was amazing. I was introduced to players like Ted Eck, Mark Santel, Brian Haynes, Robin Fraser, the pony-tailed Marcelo Balboa and his short white socks and sliders, Jean Harbor, Phillip Gyau, Steve Trittschuh, Chad Ashton, the villainous Paulinho, and Taifour Diané.

When the US was granted the 1994 World Cup, part of the agreement was that a true professional league would be created. Denver was awarded a franchise, and I was hopeful that my Foxes would be promoted to the major league. Imagine my surprise and heartbreak when Eck, Santel, Haynes, Soehn and Ashton were all shipped off to Dallas to be teammates with Jason Kreis. A few others were drafted by MLS teams and others went off to play in Europe. At least Benedetti, Balboa and Pinon moved from the Foxes to the Rapids. Plus, we drafted a few notable players from the APSL. But to make matters worse The Burn were our first home game. April 21st, 1996 was an interesting match day. Umbro shorts and white tournament t-shirts as far as the eye could see. The only Rapids apparel was on the field. There was a great sense of anticipation in the stands. Apart from Balboa, Henderson and Wegerle most of the players were unknowns. From section 129, row 13, seat 18 (I have my ticket stub framed) I watched us beat The Burn. I quickly learned that passion is driven by the lows as often as it is driven by the highs, after all we have only had seven winning seasons.

I have never lived in Denver, Colorado Springs was the closest, since graduating college my career has taken me away. First Texas and now Utah. I have always been a fan from a distance. But I have great memories of the games I have been home for. In the early 2000’s when the jerseys were too tight for anyone but the players to wear, I tried to emulate the River Ratz and start my own supporters group with friends from Colorado Springs. We were called The Rabids. It only went so far as me making a green t-shirt with iron-on fuzzy white letters that said, RABIDS. I couldn’t count the number of dumb looks I got the one time I wore it to a game. At the old Mile High Stadium, against the MetroStars, Clint Mathis scored a late goal to give his side the lead. To celebrate, he and his teammates ran right in front of me. Mathis lifted his shirt to expose just his left nipple… Years later I got to asked him about the celebration. He laughed and said it was an homage to the prison phone scene between Jim Carrey and Mathew Broderick in The Cable Guy. As memory recalls Chris Carrieri and John Spencer both scored in stoppage time to take all three points. In the 2005 Western Conference Final we hosted the Los Angeles Galaxy and referee Brian Hall. I hate Brian Hall. Jean Philip Peguero scored off a corner kick only to have Hall insist that the kick be retaken. Of course we didn’t score again. In fact we went on to lose the game and LA advanced to MLS Cup. I berated Hall as he left the pitch after stealing the game from us. I even waited what seemed an eternity so I could curse Donovan as he left. No doubt he heard me. Did I mention that I hate Brian Hall. I was at Dick’s for Opening Day. It was so cold. It was the first time we wore burgundy. My mom knit burgundy and light blue scarves for me and a friend. Who remembers the new badge reveal? I spent days watching the team website as that damn think revealed itself piece by piece. In the midst of the Fire Clavijo days I used duct tape to cover the Rapids name on my jersey and scribbled "" on the tape. Clavijo spoke out against the vocal fans who called for him to be sacked, his words exactly were "How Really True Fans Are You?". I wish this had become a stadium chant, banner or a scarf. No hard feelings towards Fernando, he is a man doing his best to support his family, but he sucked and made us suck too. Beckerman for Ballouchy is the best trade ever made. I stand by that. On May 5th, 2007, Cinco de Mayo, I stood in the south stands, in a monsoon, wearing a soggy sombrero as I watched Dwayne De Rosario drive through the heart of our team and score, over and over again. This one time, against the Revs, I might have had a minor heart attack sitting in the stands. I can’t confirm that. I watched us win MLS Cup alone, sitting on my sister-in-laws couch, no one to share my joy with. It’s okay because I cried way more than a grown man should cry in that kind of situation. I was home for the RSL match when Juan Ramirez scored on an empty net. None of us will ever see an empty net goal again in soccer. I have spent years coming to terms that this is just a game, it shouldn’t be allowed to ruin our weekends. I have a special affinity for each of you even though we have probably never met. Mountain Roads Take Me Home is a great stadium song, I doubt it means more to anyone than myself. 1102 words. Sorry.

Another genius post from a Burgundy Wave reader! Remember that this was written by a fan, not an official Burgundy Wave writer, and the content of this post might not necessarily be an official opinion of this blog's management.