When it comes to speculating how the MLS standings will shake out at the end of the 2019 season, I would have to agree with the predictions below:
My 2019 @MLS predictions— Ⓢⓣⓔⓥⓔ Ⓕⓔⓝⓝ (@StatHunting) February 26, 2019
Speculating how the Colorado Rapids will finish the season is both fun and maddening at the same time. While the preseason has given Rapids supporters some serious hope with the addition of proven MLS offensive firepower, we also find ourselves wondering if the defense has provided the necessary improvements.
In this edition of Rapid Fire (formerly Takeaways...) we’ll look at the season month-by-month to see how things could shake out.
Prediction for the Rapids
I predict that the Rapids will finish with 47 points (13-8-13), which would have put them at 8th in the West in 2018. Even so, this means that the Rapids will play deep into the season with hopes of making it into that 6th spot in the playoffs.
Really? 47 points? After last season? Yes!
- March: Portland Timbers, at Seattle Sounders, Sporting Kansas City, at FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo. Five games in one month, toggling back and forth between home and away. Still, the Rapids have not lost a home opener over the last five years and given the weather that’s expected Saturday evening, the Rapids should at least draw with Portland. With a loss at Seattle, a win at SKC (a place where they’ve had some success over the years), another win at Dallas, and, yes, a win against Houston, it’s not out of the question for the Pids to head into April with ten points. Diego Rubio will have something to prove against his old squad, but so will Marlon Hairston of the Dynamo against his old club. Predicted record: 3-1-1
- April will serve as a test to see if the Rapids have some long-term staying power over 2019: at Orlando City, home against Seattle home against DC United, then two away against the Chicago Fire and Atlanta United. Orlando City and Seattle will come out a draw, but the boys will rebound against DC United. With another draw at Chicago, the Rapids will then travel to Mercedes Benz Stadium to play MLS Cup winners Atlanta United. While they will likely lose that contest, one would hope that they will keep it competitive. This will be a tough month: only six points entering into May and sixteen points overall. Predicted record: 4-4-2
- May: Vancouver Whitecaps and Real Salt Lake at home, at LA Galaxy, back home against Columbus Crew SC, then at Philadelphia Union. Wins against Vancouver and Real Salt Lake will keep the burgundy supporters happy not only due to six points, but that the Rapids will be a win up in the Rocky Mountain Cup. Yet, I believe losses against the remaining three teams will happen due to a brutal travel schedule from Carson, CA, back to Commerce City, then to Philadelphia? It’s here, though, that the Rapids could surprise us, given how they have bolstered their roster with MLS veterans who understand the demands of travel in this league. (Plus, what kind of reception will Keegan Rosenberry receive?) Only six points from this month as well, 20 overall. Predicted Record: 6-4-5
- June: FC Cincinnati, Minnesota United, at Vancouver, at Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC). This is a tough one because we do not know how good FC Cincinnati will be, but we have the the confidence to see two wins against them and Minnesota and two losses against Vancouver and LAFC away from home. Predicted Record: 8-4-7
- July: New England Revolution, at Portland, New York City FC, at San Jose Earthquakes. The Rapids face the Revs this year at the annual July 4th match and fans will see fireworks on the pitch as well as after the game. Even with the win at home, traveling to Portland and playing a few days later will be too much to overcome and they will lose to the Timbers. If the goal-scoring of the Rapids continues to show promise, they could draw in a barnburner against NYCFC, followed by a win against San Jose. Predicted Record: 10-5-8
- August: Montreal Impact, at San Jose, at Minnesota, at Houston, at Real Salt Lake, at New York Red Bulls. This is a brutal month, with five straight games on the road, criss-crossing the US for a total of approximately 9,851 miles (according to Google Maps). This is where the depth of the Rapids will certainly come into play. I see a solid Montreal win to kick off the month, a draw at San Jose, but a loss at Minnesota, then another in the humidity of Houston, a draw at RSL, and a loss (possibly a big one) against the Red Bulls. Predicted Record: 11-7-11
- September/October: LA Galaxy, at Toronto FC, at SKC, FC Dallas, at LAFC. The Rapids will have 11 days between the match at New York Red Bulls and the one at home against LA Galaxy, which should serve them well. The Burgundy Boys will beat LA, then fly to Toronto and lose a hard-fought game four days later. Then, as they travel to SKC, the home team will surprise the Rapids and snatch a win here at DSGP. Colorado will pull out a win at Fan Appreciation Day against FC Dallas. Then, with the playoff spot on the line, they will fight hard and hope that LAFC will struggle to finish out games like they did in 2018 and earn a draw. Predicted Record: 13-8-13
So, there you have it: a 16-point improvement from 2018. The questions we’re still asking ourselves: Will Kei Kamara stay healthy? Will the 4-4-2 diamond produce results? Will the defense improve from last year? How will a 40-year-old Tim Howard do in his professional swan song? Will Anthony Hudson’s acclimation to MLS serve him and the Rapids well in 2019?
Of course, it’s all sheer speculation now. Many supporters hope for the best, while many expect the worst given how the last few seasons have gone.
But Saturday is coming, with what seems to be a #SnowClasico taking shape.
What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments!