How far do you think the Rapids can go?

Cummings (Getty Images)

The Colorado Rapids flew under the radar last season en route to capturing their first MLS Cup championship.

Despite holding that distinction, the Rapids find themselves in a similar position in 2011. The defending champions are again quietly still very much alive after defeating the Columbus Crew in Thursday night's wild card match to advance into the Eastern Conference bracket. Granted, the circumstances around this year's team and last year's are a bit different.

For one, Conor Casey's extended injury absence has taken its toll on the team's ability to get consistent play from its front line. The team's depth has also been stretched after a CONCACAF Champions League run that came up short of the knockout stage.

Captain Pablo Mastroeni has been out of action recently as well, dealing with a concussion. It's possible that he'll return when the Rapids go up against an in-form Sporting Kansas City side in the conference semifinals. While SKC won the top seed in the East, though, Colorado finished with just two fewer points over the course of the year, and the two clubs played to 1-1 draws in both of their meetings this season. In fact, the Rapids haven't lost to any of the remaining teams in the Eastern Conference bracket, going 1-0-1 against both Philadelphia and Houston.

With all that said, how far do you think the defending MLS champs can go? Cast your vote after the jump:

—————-

How did you vote? How far do you see the Rapids going in their title defense?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in MLS- Colorado Rapids. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to How far do you think the Rapids can go?

  1. Rory says:

    The thing is, playoff games (especially one-off playoff games) are “squeeky bum time” events. While other teams might not be so experienced with trying to sit back and not screw up then make the most of a couple of chances, the Rapids are masters of it. Fewest shots of any MLS team this year, but in the top half of goals scored. They live for playing tight at the back (with Wynn’s spead to compensate for anyone that finds some room) and then making you pay on the counter with speed (Nyassi, Cummings). Plus their midfield can wear you down and get physical (Larentowicz and Mastroeni).

  2. If you’d asked me this same question a week ago I’d have a totally different answer. The goal that the Rapids made happen against a very conservative Crew defense was a piece of beauty. Mullan’s pass was great, Kimura made a fantastic cutting inside overlapping run, Folan pulled two defenders with him to leave Cummings with all the space he needed to place the shot.

    The Rapids really took it to the Crew and the game was a lot more exciting than I thought it was going to be. What wasn’t mentioned in the article is that Jamie Smith is now out with a knee injury after playing what was one of the best games I’ve seen him play since the start of the season.

    That being said, the encouraging play that I saw yesterday is indicative that this team could make a deep run. I’m going all in. What the hell, right?

  3. Bob says:

    Directv is dropping FSC beginning 11/1, so it looks like the title defense wont be televised for many.

  4. Samson says:

    I dont think Pablo returns for this series. Their midfield is still strong defensively, but can they keep up with the running of SKC over 2 legs? They are going to have to capitalize on every opportunity.

  5. mikey says:

    The Hackids will fall to Sporting.

  6. t says:

    They CAN win the whole thing, but I would bet they won’t. They beat a Columbus team who played truly uninspired soccer late night, so that game isn’t changing my mind about their chances of a repeat.
    Its a total crapshoot after the next round. If they beat SKC, who I think is a better team and will be more motivated than Columbus, over two legs, then I could see them possibly making it to the MLScup. That’s a big if. And they’d still have to beat Philly or Houston which, based on current form, would be a pretty evenly matched game.
    If (huge if but if) they made it to the MLScup they’d have a tough time against seattle or la. I could see them beating rsl or ny though.

  7. Neruda says:

    KC is too quick and is equal to or better in every position. To much athleticism on KC to handle.

  8. Yawn. says:

    The Colorado v. Columbus game was Exhibit ‘B’ in why there are too many teams in the playoffs. I literally fell asleep 20 mins. into the game. (Exhibit “A” was, of course, NYRB v. Dallas). Talk about a disaster.

    As for the question, I think Colorado can win it all. I think any of the 8 teams can win it all. All any team has to do is win two, two-legged series and a final at a neutral site. Its a crap shoot, and a stupid way to crown a champion.

    IF this league cared about parity, it could do away with every other parity-inducing measure–salary caps, designated players, drafts in all their manifestations, MNT player allocations, revenue sharing, single entity–and keep playoffs and still have enough parity to keep the most avid “we love parity” bozo content that his team has a shot at glory.

    This league cares about single entity, which solidifies league monopoly and prevents teams from competing with each other for players–driving down player salaries, erasing competition, and, as with all monopolies, leading to and overpriced but inferior product.

    The answer is, Colorado has a 1/8th chance, so do NYRB, LA, SKC, and RSL and the rest, because they are all the same.

  9. manny says:

    Its worse than that. The conference semi is only one game. So win at home 2-0, lose away 1-0, tie in the semi (and win the PK shootout), and tie in the final (and win in PK’s) and you are the “Champion.”

    Ugh.

  10. peterjh says:

    Last year when I saw Colorado play live last year, a game they lost, I left feeling this was a really dangerous team that, if it got hot, could make a run through the playoffs. When I watched them play this year, I didn’t get that sense at all. If there’s a team like that this year, one that not many think will win it but coudl make a run through the playoffs, I think it’s Houston.

  11. jim b says:

    Colorado simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower that SKC has. Over the course of two games that will show and KC goes through

  12. Gordo Stretch says:

    Colorado won’t go all the way. They won because Columbus was horrible last night. Things working against Columbus last night:

    1) Tchani starting & going the distance – those were his first minutes with the club and he hasn’t played in 4 months due to injury. What a great time to bring him in (not). I expected him to be very rusty & he didn’t disappoint. I don’t blame Tchani … coach never should’ve put him in that position.

    2) Ekpo red card suspension.

    3) O’Rourke’s last minute scratch.

    4) Coach using a 4-5-1, thus leaving Renteria on the bench when he didn’t have 5 healthy & available midfielders.

    5) Columbus just wasn’t very good this year. They couldn’t complete a 5 yard pass. It was hard to watch.

    5) Altitude, weather, pitch, overall poor play… I could go on & on.

  13. Rory says:

    I have Dish Network and pay the extra $7 or whatever for the package where you get Fox Soccer and NFL Redzone and a bunch of the local sports networks… one of which is Altitude so I even got to watch last night’s game on actual TV instead of the internet.

    The thing is that most times these spats between networks and TV providers ultimately get settled before the scheduled shut-off or shortly after. It’s just two companies battling over who gets and extra 1%.

  14. Rory says:

    Right… hackids. The second least foul-commiting team in the league. The defending Champs.

  15. Eric Fulton says:

    Good Comments LH,

    The Rapids looked sharp and largely dominated a quiet Crew team. As you mentioned, it’s important to recognize the impact that Jaime Smith’s injury will/may make going into the next series, especially if Pablo can’t play. He’s been terrific when healthy (albeit, not much this year).

    They can win it all and I think they stand as good of a chance as anyone at this point. Defense wins championships and the Rapids D is looking unified.

  16. Big Chil says:

    It almost seems like an advantage to have the first leg at home. The Rapids just played a game there, will get to stay at home and not travel, and then, if home field advantage produces a good result, can sit back and defend on the road to preserve the win.

  17. Eric Fulton says:

    Rory, thanks for confronting stereotypes with facts. While some may fault (read: not like) the Rapids for not playing the flowing style of soccer that neutrals and others adore, the truth is that they aren’t a dirty team. They are a tough, physical, and what may be an annoying team to play against. This makes them very difficult to beat and is a big part of their recent post-season successes.

  18. Rory says:

    It doesn’t help the Rapids image that Conor Casey (when he’s not hurt of course) really bulldogs a defender while he’s out there. He gets called for some fouls (and boy do opponents hate when he isn’t getting called for those fouls) but he’s one of the few Forwards in the league and (once) in the National team pool that tried to give the defenders as much as he gets from them, physically.

    Years ago I wished we could see the same sort of thing from Jozy Altidore as he got older, lord knows he has the physical body for it, but it just doesn’t seem to be Jozy’s thing. Instead we see Jozy get knocked to the ground and the ref looks at him like “no way some guy that size is getting knocked over on a hit like that without diving.”

  19. Rory says:

    Funny thing… Columbus has had more offensive firepower lately than KC despite everyone talking about how much they were struggling.

    True fact… last 5 regular season games Columbus had 8 goals, KC had 6.

    Last 8 regular season games it’s a bit closer with Columbus having 10 to KC’s 9.

    Last 5 MLS games Colorado had 5, just one below KC but they also had the CCL games midweek to deal with and a juggling of starting lineups to deal with that.

  20. Rory says:

    Yeah that two hour flight from KC is really going to take a lot out of them.

  21. Rory says:

    Sorry, I just looked it up, one hour 35 minutes.

  22. Brent McD says:

    Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Rapids are one and done.

  23. RB says:

    Already talking about him as probable for the first leg Sunday, I believe.

  24. RB says:

    I think it was you, Rory, who said the other day that nothing was more American than avoiding having to do the math. Not sure about that.
    It seems avoiding checking the real facts and thinking about them in order to come up with an accurate view of things, as opposed to just lazily repeating conventional wisdom or stereotypes (however inaccurate), might be an even better candidate.

  25. Tomas says:

    One thing I’d like to add is that Omar Cummings was a force last year. He really stretched the field with his speed and his long diagonal runs. This year was a different story. For some reason he hasn’t gotten in the groove. What if that goal he scored against Columbus is the spark that gets him back on track (sweet “Tebow” incidentally)? To paraphrase Rick James, “Confidence is a helluva drug.”

  26. ben in el cajon says:

    They will win until they play a team from the West.

  27. RB says:

    Well it’s certainly not going to help them, having to play (even in the best case scenario) a single-elimination conference final match on the road at the home of a team who finished lower than they did and lost the head-to-head to them during the regular season. All because of the way the conferences and the playoff system are set up. The effect of moving Houston to the East this year, if they beat Philly, will be to award them that match at home instead of in Colorado.

  28. Mils says:

    Healthy Casey > Lazy Outthedoor

  29. J Bob says:

    +1,000,000