EDITORIAL – The Colorado Rapids have one game left in their 2021 MLS regular season. They’ve already clinched a home game in the first round of the playoffs. Decision Day is this Sunday and they still have a chance to finish first in the Western Conference. They’re in this position in part thanks to 2-2-1 in their last five games. Let’s go through how did the Colorado Rapids survive those five games in sixteen days to end October.
Colorado Rapids survive October fixture congestion
Those five games went as follows:
Oct. 16: 3-1 loss at Real Salt Lake
Oct. 20: 1-1 draw vs Seattle Sounders
Oct. 23: 2-0 win vs Portland Timbers (to clinch a playoff spot)
Oct. 27: 1-0 loss at New England Revolution
Oct. 31: 1-0 win at Houston Dynamo
On face value, this isn’t impressive given the quality of opposition. The didn’t beat either of the top teams they played (Seattle and New England). They won their one game against an eliminated team in Houston. In their two matches against teams still fighting for a playoff spot (RSL and Portland), they won at home and lost on the road.
That being said, playing almost a game every three days is tough. Head coach Robin Fraser rotated his squad significantly all while picking up points. Austin Trusty and William Yarbrough, a goalkeeper, are the only players to play every minute during this period.
“I feel good about it,” Fraser told Last Word when asked about how he and the team have done to navigate this stretch.
Many fringe starters stepped up. Dominique Badji scored three goals during these five games, all of them consequential. Yarbrough and Trusty were excellent defensively. Other than Cole Bassett again struggling to finish his chances in New England, each midfielder put in a shift.
“We’ve gotten a lot of players playing time. Much of that is about evaluating where we are for the playoffs and a team’s readiness in terms of personnel and formation for the playoff game(s).”
The game against Seattle was a good and improved performance compared to the two previous iterations of that fixture, collectively. Seattle’s goal in that match appeared to be offside. Fraser played a reserve team in Foxborough and almost got out with a draw. Colorado were a few plays way from going 4-1-0. And let’s be real, that loss at RSL coming out of an international break was to be expected.
Now there is just one matchday left in the regular season; Decision Day this coming Sunday. The Pids remain in third and can still win the top seed in the Western Conference thanks to SKC losing at Austin FC last night. They need to win against Los Angeles FC. They also need Seattle and Sporting to draw or lose at Vancouver and vs RSL, respectively.
A win and solid performance against LAFC and Fraser could go from feeling good to great about that opening round playoff match, regardless of Colorado’s seed or opponent.
Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.
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