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Game 33: The Final 2019 Home Game

MLS: Colorado Rapids at FC Dallas Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing makes any sense anymore. Here we are, 32 games into the season, and the Colorado Rapids have not been eliminated from the playoffs. What in the actual heck is happening here? Well, I’m here for nothing if not trying to make some sense of things. Let’s start by taking a look at the visiting team for our final home game of 2019.

Dallas is coming to town for a repeat performance of closing out the Rapids season at home. Last year, we ended the season beating them 2-1 thanks to a sweet Cole Bassett goal and a trademark Tommy Smith header. It was an upbeat note on an otherwise disappointing season. A way to provide some hope for the next year. That hope didn’t really pan out until about 10 games in, but it was still a good game at the time.

This game this weekend is going to be crucial for us to keep our playoff dreams alive. Currently, San Jose is at 44 while Portland and FC Dallas are both at 45 points, each with two games left in the season. The best way for us to get into the playoffs is to start by winning out. That means a win this weekend would bump us up to 42 points, keeping Dallas at 45. Then, a win against LAFC would bump us to 45. That would place us above San Jose, but that would only place us into eighth place. The key is how we line up against Portland and FC Dallas. However, Portland and San Jose play each other in their final game of the season. Points must be awarded to one team or another, so we have to hope that Portland beats SJ, giving them three points and then placing us only directly against Dallas. At that point, if Dallas loses out we would be above Dallas with wins (13 to 12) and then secure the final spot.

Anyways, enough about the 4-D chess that is required to talk about playoffs. Let’s get back to the other team. Dallas is in a tight spot right now. They are very likely going to earn a spot in the playoffs, so it is just a matter of if they can clinch a higher spot and earn some home-field advantages. They had a couple of big games where they absolutely crushed rivals Houston and newcomers Cincinnati 5-1 and 3-1 respectively, but then in turn got rocked by Chicago and pulled off tight draws against Seattle and NYCFC. They’ll be playing for 3 points that they’ll need, or even a single point to help ensure their placement.

The XI for Dallas is usually in a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1 formation. The back line has keeper Jesse Gonzales and right back Reggie Cannon, and 2016 MLS Defender of the Year Matt Hedges. In midfield, they have one of the most interesting players in MLS with 19-year-old Paxton Pomykal, an up-and-comer for the US national team. Gonzales, Cannon, Pomykal, and midfielder Brandon Servania are all homegrown players, as well as on the fringe of the US national team. A total of nine players on Dallas’ squad are homegrowns - proof that their academy truly is considered one of the best in MLS.

The attacking players should include Colombian Michael Barrios and the Czech Zdenek Ondrasek. But, we also should be able to see ex-Rapids striker, Dom Badji. We have an… interesting history with Badji. His seven goals for the Rapids in 2018 made him win our Golden Boot award, despite getting traded halfway through the season. He has been on record saying that his goal is to hit double-digit goals. Well, barring some sort of incredible resurgence in Dallas’ final two games of the season, it looks like he will fall short again. He currently sits at six goals and three assists. Having appeared in 27 of the 32 games for Dallas so far, he has had plenty of opportunities to hit the scoreboard, but just isn’t quite capable of stepping to a new level.

Let’s make this clear, this is a totally winnable game. We’ve had some great games this year under Casey and Fraser, and this is absolutely a chance to keep that momentum going. One last chance to see our Rapids play in 2019, and perhaps most noticeably the last chance to see our beloved Tim Howard between the sticks. Let’s send off our team on a high note, and try to keep our playoff chances alive.