A LEGENDARY DAY
The Rapids Make the Playoffs. Nuff said? Hardly.
Benjamin Kowalsky
Oct 21st 2010

The Rapids faithful who have been waiting 3 years for their team to reach the MLS Cup playoffs, and thus to have a shot at the top prize in Major League Soccer have been rewarded. I say that not because of the New England Revolution 1-0 victory to put the Kansas City Wizards out of the playoff picture, but because of the Rapids triumphant display as they not only put their playoff drought to rest but also beat one of their most annoying statistics: the Rapids do not win games when they go a goal down first. The Rapids were scored upon first, then completed a convincing rout of the LA Galaxy. In this victory, the Rapids not only avenged one of their only home losses this year, but also made an emphatic statement to the League.

Saturday night was a night to remember for Colorado Rapids fans, and hopefully it will turn the heads of sports fans in general in Denver who desperately want a scrap of good news in an otherwise (Avalanche possibly excluded) depressing season for sporting Denver.

Tim Tebow tackles his mom. At least he can tackle SOMETHING.

My night began with the New England - Kansas City fixture. A loss or a draw by KC would effectively put them out of the playoffs for the second year in a row, and push the Rapids into their first post-season berth in three seasons. I was surprisingly nervy for that game. Palms all asweat and such as I checked MLS.com over and over for updates. If Iíd had a moment to calm myself, I should have reminded myself of what Iíd reminded KC fans of for a few days: KC had it all to do.

They had to win, not just draw, but win, all three games regardless of what the Rapids did. Even if the Rapids lost to the Galaxy, and to RSL, KC still had to win all three games. The amount of pressure was sure to get to them at some point and then cease to be a driving force. I expected it to come against Chicago, but they rallied, and eventually despite punishing the Revs for most of the second half with shot-after-shot... the pressure became too much, and the Revs got to play spoiler for KC and savior for the Colorado Rapids.

The Rapids showed not but an hour later that, unlike Wells Thompson and whoever gives him his fancy undershirts, they didnít need a savior.

Going into this match: no one could have expected Colorado to perform as well as they did against the Galaxy. Now, of course, in retrospect, fans of the Galaxy may be heming and hawing about how it really wasnít that big of a deal. And game analyses are coming through that, as a matter of course, give Colorado no credit in a victory but place all blame on LA Galaxy for losing. I say ďas a matter of courseĒ because it seems that more commentators insist on showing that other teams lose rather than Colorado wins. Like, that team just fell apart and Colorado was simply just there to watch it happen.

Thatís a bit of a rant, but dammit itís true. I would have hoped that such a convincing win would send a message, but those hearts hardened against our Rapids remain hardened. Ah, you canít win them all over. But what was wonderful to see was the normally silent Rapids fans, the ones that really like Colorado... theyíre starting to peek their heads out from their burrows.

If you want a game description, or a player rating system that actually works out, I recommend reading Crumudgeon Daveís Blog. Heís generally fantastic with how he does things, and heís one of the few people that even bothers to do player ratings anymore. Also take a look at UZ at Burgundy Wave . And Brian Daly at Colorado Rapids Fan . This Blogosphere is getting crowded. Like one of those sweaty clubs that I used to frequent in my youth.

So much to regret...

My game analysis is going to be difficult because of all the emotions that I was trying to process through the game. Look, Iím not a journalist, and Iím not even going to pretend journalistic objectivity. This was an amazing game for me to watch, much like the RSL game but for totally different reasons.

The Rapids went down a goal within the first 11 minutes, then came back to win it all through stellar performances by all but maybe Wells Thompson. Iím not saying Wells was terrible, but he wasnít a shining star. He did alright, and was careless on the defense especially with Beckham and Donovan... but I think itís far too harsh to call him anything less than serviceable in that game.

Gary basically gave the poor guy the Left Back position and then said ďhave fun playing against David Beckham, ladĒ. Wells did not look like he was having fun with that, by the way. Gave away far too many reckless fouls that just spoke to his carelessness, not to any kind of malicious intent. If a guy ever got past him, heíd basically grab his shoulder, as if to say ďhey man, wait a second, I have something AMAZING to share with you.Ē

One could almost see the Chick Tract hanging out of his pocket, at the ready.

PS go to this website for more Wells Thompson .

Most commentators are placing the focus on in-form and red-hot Omar Cummings, as well they should. Omar Cummings is a class player who deserves heavy consideration for MVP of the league. For Rapids fans who have been watching Omar come up for the past 4 seasons, this season has been an absolute treat. Omar has become more versatile and more vicious than ever before. Itís hard to think of any Rapid in recent memory who has been as essential to the Rapids offense as Omar.

Casey was also in rare form in LA. I say that both because his form was fantastic, and because that fantastic display is rarely seen, which makes the times where it doesnít show so much more unbearable. Omar and Conor together sliced and pounded (respectively) the back four of the Galaxy to the point where the goals were just raining down.

Make it Rain, Uncle Scrooge. Make it Rain.

While going back LA may not have shined, they certainly had enough of the ball to move it forward, and Beckham was almost constantly open and in good space to receive the ball and make the play. The Rapids didnít beat a weakened Galaxy side, but a (numbers-wise anyway) fairly strong side. All the right names were on the home pitch, and should have been properly motivated: a win would have secured a Supportersí Shield.

The Rapids back four, save for perhaps Wells Thompson and a single inadvertent deflection from stalwart Drew Moor, was in sensational form. Marvell Wynne has made his case game-after-game of why he is one of the greatest athletes in the MLS, perhaps in world soccer overall. You can literally watch a ball launched past the defensive line, a speedy striker sets up to pounce on it, and then watch as Wynne (nearly a blur at this point) not only beats the striker to the ball, but beats the ball to wherever it thought it was going. Keeping Edson Buddle and Landon Donovan at bay is no small task, but Moor and Wynne made their case.

Although, I must say I canít wait for Julien Baudet to come back so Wynne can start solving our Left Back conundrum. If you recall, Baudet did a stellar job of keeping the ball away from Buddle save for a singular effort off a corner kick.

The middle of the field was largely dominated by LA, but Pablo and Jeff, the standing spine of the Rapids, started some fantastic play up the middle. As usual, winning the ball and trying to keep it going back our way. Jaime Smith and Brian Mullen were critical to starting plays that resulted in goal scoring opportunities, and both performed admirably.

All in all, I canít say it enough, this was the Rapids proving why they belong in the playoffs: they are compact, efficient team, capable of doing severe damage to any team regardless of where they stand on the table. Against the top three names in the West, only the Galaxy thus far have made the Rapids taste defeat this season.

Last Saturday should show everyone that not only are the Rapids in the playoffs, but they deserve to be there. And they will continue the fight to prove themselves against rivals Real Salt Lake at the weekend.

Until then...mountain roads... Take me home...

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