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Game 34: It all comes down to this

The Rapids have to do their part and beat the best team in MLS this weekend to have a chance at the playoffs.

MLS: FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are. The last game of an absolute roller coaster of a season for the Colorado Rapids. We’ve seen lows (the first 10 games, the RMC) and some incredible highs (Montreal, LAFC, LA Galaxy twice, and Tim Howard’s final game last weekend against Dallas). For the first time since 2016, we actually have a chance to make it into the playoffs. Despite the many problems that this team had at the start of the season, this same team has risen above them.

Earlier in the season, Los Angeles FC came to town. They were riding hot as the best team in the league, with Carlos Vela sitting high atop the race for the Golden Boot. They had only lost a single game. Everyone thought they were going to come to Denver for an easy three points. The result? Well, it was summarized by the title of the game recap, and frontrunner for best headline ever published on Burgundy Wave: Bottom Group of Players Beat Best Team in MLS 1-0. That’s right, thanks to a key header from Danny Wilson, the Burgundy Boys walked away with three points and kept LAFC from scoring. We handed them their second loss of the season and gave them what turned out to be one of four games where their opponents kept them to a shutout. With some serious heroics from our homegrown left back Sam Vines, we kept the best player in MLS in 2019 off the scoreboard.

We did it once before, we can do it again.

Yes, the hopes for a playoff appearance are slim. The simplest way in would be for us to win, while having both the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas lose in their games. If Dallas earns a point, we’re 100% out. If Dallas loses and SJ ties, then the playoff spot comes down to goal differential — meaning we’d have to beat LAFC by at least two goals. We’d be tied on games won, and after goal differential, it would come down to goals for, which we have a pretty healthy advantage over SJ on.

LAFC has already won the Supporters’ Shield on lock. This game is essentially meaningless to them from a results standpoint. Win or lose, they’ll still have home-field advantage through the playoffs. What they’ll be playing for is to set an MLS record for most points in a single season, and if Vela scores again, he’ll break Josef Martinez’s record for most goals in a single season with 32. Between the records and momentum going into the playoffs, there is a reason for them to take this game seriously.

But, by the same token, they have only earned one win out of their last seven games (though with only one loss as well). With their roster mostly healthy, this may be the perfect opportunity for LAFC to rest some players and keep them ready for playoffs, or to play them all and bring back that winning mentality.

Regardless of what happens, you can’t help but be proud of this team. A dismal start to the season, and on track for the worst record in MLS history and we bounced back to being playoff contenders and setting several records for the team. Kei Kamara and Diego Rubio both hit double-digit goals, a feat not seen on this team since 2010. Our young striker Andre Shinyashiki is practically a shoo-in for Rookie of the Year. We have a solid young core to build around for the future and with not one but three DP slots available.

Yes, we 100% for sure need to support the team in the last match of the regular season. But even if our playoff window closes, the future remains bright for this team. For possibly the last time in 2019... Let’s up the ‘Pids!