With a handful of new signings and several young players, 2020 is shaping up to be a spectacular year for the boys in burgundy. Fans of the Colorado Rapids can’t help but wonder: Could this be a repeat of the 2016 season’s deep run into the playoffs? Could it perhaps be even better?
The Rapids’ 2016 season was special. Not just because it was the deepest playoff run the club has had since winning the MLS Cup in 2010, but because that year the fans really believed in that squad.
The players felt it, too. Jared Watts, former Rapids defender, said this when asked about the 2016 season: “Obviously the fans want a good product on the field. That season we were special in a different way—we had a group of players that were inspired by the fans and their belief in us. As a true supporter, it means that you stick by your team no matter the results.”
“Keep fighting stuck for us in 2016. Pablo [Mastroeni] used that as a motivator all season,” Watts admitted. “We were truly connected. Pablo understood the fans’ message and we rallied around it. That season, we felt connected to the fans and we had a true home-field advantage.”
This season has a feeling reminiscent of that 2016 team. The addition of Robin Fraser as head coach last year—someone who has a history with the club—only adds to the emotional connection. Fraser, a Rapids defender from 2001-2003, also has high hopes for the upcoming season. He’s mentioned how the team competes hard and really push each other in training and after a week of preseason, he said that it’s clear the players worked hard in the offseason and the team is “shaping up quite well.”
Looking into that future is as exciting for the fans as it is for a former player. “I played for the Rapids for four years. 2016 was amazing because the fans gave the Rapids a motto to believe in,” Watts explained. “Robin is the perfect guy to run the team. He understands the league, was a great player—honestly I could not think of a better hire. I would be shocked if the Rapids don’t finish top 4 in the West. They are that good on paper.”
Watts thinks it’s very cool that the Rapids are one of the original MLS clubs and it’s something worth celebrating, especially as we enter the 25th anniversary of the league this year. While the situation around Watts’ departure made him glad to be traded to Houston, he said “it never felt like home...I love Colorado. I got engaged there, spent the first year of marriage there, got my first dog there, and made some of my best friends there.”
He finished by saying, “Colorado Rapids will always be my team,” which is a feeling many Rapids’ fans can relate to. It’s not always easy, but with a new coach, new signings, and young players who have yet to reach their full potential, the fans, city, and former players all have a lot to look forward to in 2020!