Before you jump right down to the comments, hear me out.
Historically, the Colorado Rapids have not been a good team. We know this. They’ve made bad signings and had bad records. They had a decent run in the playoffs in 2016, but then completely tanked under Anthony Hudson. The club had some work to do to gain the respect of their fan base, first of all, but also everyone else.
When Executive Vice President and General Manager Padraig Smith and Senior Vice President of Business Operations Wayne Brant made the (absolutely correct) decision to fire Hudson, all eyes were on Colorado when Conor Casey started turning things around. The Robin Fraser hiring was lauded as a good move. They came thisclose to making the playoffs in 2019.
There were ups and downs in 2020 (which is fair given the whole pandemic that was going on), including a rough patch that, in my opinion, was fairly criticized and questioned. But they still destroyed Real Salt Lake to win the Rocky Mountain Cup. They made the playoffs, though had a fairly embarrassing showing in the first round. There was still work to do.
After the match, captain Jack Price said “Obviously disappointed. Coming away with a 3-0 loss, we haven’t been beaten like that most of the season. We just have to learn from this. We have to come back stronger. We had moments today where we should’ve taken our chances and punished them. It’s a different game if we score first and we just didn’t take our chances. We weren’t clinical enough. We opened up towards the end, obviously we’re going for it, and then they get a third. We have to be more clinical. We’ll have to learn from this. We’re a young group and we’ll come back stronger next year.”
After the season, Padraig Smith talked to Burgundy Wave about the process of rebuilding and admitted that there were still a few roster pieces they wanted to put in place.
“When we started this rebuild process back in 2018, we had to turn over so many players that we knew there was going to be improvement. Now we’re down to a very few and it’s going to take special players to come in and make this better,” he said at the time.
And 2021 has been fantastic. Kellyn Acosta and Sam Vines got a ton of attention for their play with the U.S. Men’s National Team. The Rapids are 4th in the Western Conference, just one point behind the LA Galaxy with two games in hand. They’ve gotten points in eight of their last nine games (and five of those have been wins). For the most part, the Rapids are consistently moving up in the power rankings and MLS pundits have been talking about them regularly.
Andrew Wiebe is team Rapids.
Disrespectful for the Rapids to even be mentioned in this group. https://t.co/4md3lPoN6A— Andrew Wiebe (@andrew_wiebe) August 18, 2021
Matt Doyle has long given them credit where credit is due.
The Rapids were good and fun and waaaaay too young and naive for the playoffs, clearly.— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) November 23, 2020
Definitely excited for this team in 2021.
But Abbie, what about the all-star snub?
I do think Kellyn Acosta and Sam Vines could’ve (should’ve?) made the list. But, especially for Acosta’s role, there is stiff competition. Plus, we all know that the all-star game is a popularity contest so I just don’t think it’s worth reading into it all that much.
The Rapids have been steadily gaining respect under Robin Fraser, but much like building trust with the fanbase, it takes time for everyone else to get onboard.
How will we definitively know that the Burgundy Boys have “made it”? More national attention from guys like Taylor Twellman that aren’t about whether he was joking about or trolling the club. More nationally televised games. More conversations about them being legit contenders, not underdogs, dark horses, or flying under the radar.
I know that many fans and even some of the players still don’t feel like they’re getting enough credit, but if you look around, the attention is definitely growing. If the players see it as motivation to keep kicking ass, then go for it. Keep forcing people to pay attention. Keep giving national media no other choice but to talk about the Burgundy Boys. I’m here for it.