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Downstream Playoffs Round One: Away to Minnesota United

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota United Stats

2020 Record: 9-5-7 WLT, 39 points for 1.62 PPG

Goals: 36 for, 26 allowed, +10 differential

Last Result: Won against Dallas 3-0 at home

Last MLS Power Ranking Position: 10

Ah, this is nice. Instead of covering a regular season game, I’m covering something way more important. The Colorado Rapids return to the playoffs. It’s been four years since the last time we could say that we had any postseason at all. We’ve been through some bleak times, sure, but the Rapids have been and are a bright spot in an otherwise dark year.

Playoffs for us begin with Minnesota United. Long story short, Minnesota ended the season in great form — unbeaten in eight games with four wins. We played them twice during the regular season, for one tie and one loss. However, both times were due to the start-stop nature of the year and now playing them in our prime means that things are much more likely to be an even match. While the Loons may be the favorite in this match-up, I think we have more than a good chance to get the win.

Here’s are the key things to keep in mind:

First: International call-ups would have been hitting both teams, but the Loons were at risk of taking the bigger hit. Along with LAFC, they have the most call-ups of any playoff team. But thanks to MLS chartering flights for international players, they’ll have Robin Lod (Finland), Jan Gregus (Slovakia), Romain Metanire (Madagascar), and former Rapids player Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone) available. Unfortunately for us, the gentlemen’s agreement made between the teams meant that Kei wasn’t able to play us in the last game, but that has since expired. He will be presumably starting or at the least playing a significant amount of time for the team. A defender, two midfielders, and a striker being gone would throw off the lineups for any team, but this means that Minnesota will be playing at full strength. Not good for us.

On the plus side, that same issue works in our favor. Diego Rubio will be available for selection, and we’ll need every player we can get to make a push for the playoffs. Particularly since offense is what’s going to be needed, Rubio will make a big difference for us.

Second: Unlike previous playoffs, this is a single-elimination tournament. No home-and-away legs. If it ends in a tie, we’ll go to PKs. No taking it easy, no playing for a tie away and hoping for a better result later. This is winner take all. We’ll have to keep the pressure up against them the full 90 minutes, but fortunately we don’t really rely on any one specific player to put it into the net. Who knows, maybe Keegan Rosenberry will pull off another zinger like he did against the Seattle Sounders.

Third: We’ll be able to watch the game since it is nationally televised (on ESPN). With so many games unwatchable due to the Comcast/Altitude debacle, it’s been difficult to watch the team all season. Lucky for us, all the playoff games will be televised, so no need to worry about that for the postseason.

I’m really looking forward to this game. The return to the playoffs against a team that by all accounts should make for a great matchup. Regardless of what happens, though, I gotta say, I’m extremely proud of this team. They’ve fought like hell even when the odds were stacked against them. They brought back the Rocky Mountain Cup in spectacular fashion. And last but not least, they made it into the playoffs. 2020 has been a bizarre and unpredictable year, and even if this is the last game for the Rapids, this is a year we can look back on with pride.

Let’s catch the team on Sunday at 5:30 as we look to make our way into the conference semifinals.