The Rapids go down in the power rankings for... no reason... and I tell you why they are going to rise.
Benjamin Kowalsky
Jan 26th 2011

How was your break? Was it good, yeah? Have you been watching a lot of those other leagues? Yeah, me too. But you know what? Get it out now, because itís time for PRE-SEASON TRAINING!!!

This is when Rapids Class of 2011 makes its first strides onto the pitch, and unsurprisingly not much has changed from the squad that won the MLS Cup last season. That doesnít, of course, prevent the MLS from somehow downgrading us in their ridiculous Pre-Season Power Rankings by a whopping five places.

You read that right: more or less the same exact team who won the MLS Cup just went down five spots in the Power Rankings, arguably to make room for more prestigious teams like LA, NYRB, and other teams whose names can be easily abbreviated.

Call me petty, but a soccer squad is not like a coffee cake: it does not somehow go sour if itís not completely remade in 3 monthsí time. If itís good, why change it?

Enough of that, letís talk about what the Rapids have going for them in the Pre-Season. Iíll just speak briefly about some intangibles here, rather than going into any particular players. At this point, the roster still isnít fixed, and we donít know a whole lot about who will feature in Smithís plans for this year. What we do know is two things about what the Rapids have this season coming right out of the gate:

1. Confidence of Champion: Finally, the Rapids have a backroom staff and playing squad with expectation of winning games of soccer. And not just any games of soccer, mind you, but big games. Read that carefully: I didnít say they donít have the desire to win, but they have the expectation to win. This is crucial to defining a club as it goes forward into next year. The Rapids now can expect themselves to win as many games as possible, and be disappointed if they donít.

The players have seen the heights now, and they know that they can reach them. And Iím sure they are eager for more.

2. Backroom of Brothers: One thing that the Rapids emphasized was their personal relationships in the locker room. No big egos, just a bunch of hard working guys who liked playing soccer together. This is an irreplaceable intangible, and if you lose it: may the soccer gods help you. If youíve got a locker room full of guys who donít get along, run by people they donít like, and not bound together by any cohesive vision of gloryÖ then itís very unlikely youíre going to win anything.

However, if youíre able to get your players getting along, and not just getting along because they all hate management, but sincerely believing in each other and in the vision of the club? Thatís just unstoppable. Columbus has done it, RSL has done it, now itís the Rapids turn become a force to contend with in this coming season.

So there it is. We went down in the MLS Power Rankings for no reason at all, but for those two reasons and more (which I will get into later) I believe we will rise.

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