Fandom with the Colorado Rapids has always come with a fair amount of give and take, and in the history of this club, there has been much more taking than giving. For a franchise that has played in three stadiums in its history, had as many re-brands, and has only made the playoffs once in the last five years, supporting them can be tough.
A year ago, the Rapids shuffled the Front Office and penned this article.
Things were supposed to be different going into 2018 after a dismal 2017. Pablo Mastroeni got sacked, the team had no offense or defense, and they played ugly and uninspired football.
All of this after a magical run to the Western Conference Finals in 2016.
There have been so many ups and downs in the last couple of years that it would be understandable for fans to begin to walk away.
2018 was suppose to be different: new coach, new attitude, new roster. But when you start the season 2W-2D-9L (8 points, 0.62 PPG), it’s hard to actually believe a word coming from Commerce City.
It has been so bad that the biggest game of the year, the July 4th match, did not sell out.
Strangely though, things have begun to turn. Since the eight-game losing streak, the Rapids have been playing reasonable football. They are 4W-4D-3L (16 points, 1.45 PPG) in their last 11. They are undefeated in their last three.
So have they turned the corner?
Honestly, I don’t know. It is no coincidence that since Anthony Hudson began experimenting with formations, that things have improved. And it is really no coincidence that since the trade for Kellyn Acosta things have really gotten better, with the only loss on the road at D.C. United since his arrival.
Other player personnel moves this year have been a mixed bag:
- Joe Mason, Yannick Boli, and Kip Colvey have been busts.
- Danny Wilson, Jack McBean, and Tommy Smith have had their moments.
- Edgar Castillo, Enzo Martinez, and Sam Nicholson have been solid-to-great this year.
For the longest time, it seemed that Hudson favored only players he brought in—largely ignoring the likes of tenured players such Dillon Serna, Marlon Hairston, and Axel Sjoberg, but that seems to have changed recently.
So seriously, have the Rapids turned the corner?
I guess that depends on if you are a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person. For me, I have seen too many iterations or passing fads to completely buy into this one. I have been through the Fernando Clavijo years, the Championship with Gary Smith, the optimism from Oscar Pareja, and the rough-and-tumble Pablo years.
And then came Anthony Hudson for what has been a complete and utter mess for the bulk of the season. I still think the jury is largely out on Hudson.
But dammit, something funny has happened in the last month: the play has been good and the team has been competitive. The shape has been better. The Rapids are running off the ball.
And the Rapids have outplayed their opponents over the last month.
It’s not just results or statistics or social media mentions. The Rapids have been one of the better teams in the Western Conference over the last four. They even pissed off some guy named Zlatan on Tuesday night. Only the team from Washington State has more wins than Colorado over that span.
The Rapids still have games at Los Angeles Football Club, Portland Timbers, Columbus Crew SC (#SaveTheCrew), Seattle Sounders, Minnesota United, and San Jose Earthquakes. Don’t forget about the home games against Real Salt Lake, Atlanta United, LAFC, and FC Dallas. They are not going to make the playoffs.
BUT—and here is the BUT in all of this—if they could pick up five or six wins in that lot of games, I would feel like the corner truly has been turned. If they could get to 40 points on the year, I would feel like the worst is behind them. They would still have some big roster decisions in the off-season (Tim Howard and Shkelzen Gashi come to mind), but things would be optimistic and hopeful.
And if Hudson can continue his growth as a coach...
And if the Front Office stops getting in its own way and is honest with their successes and failures...
Anything is possible.
So the Rapids have not turned that corner yet, but they finally seem to have that Burgundy Car pointed in the right direction. And they can see the turn sign up ahead.