2007 Club by Club
After back-to-back appearances in the Western Conference Championship game, the opening of the Rapids' new home, the largest and most state-of-the-art professional soccer stadium & complex on Earth. The opening of Dick's Sporting Goods Park and brand new international partnerships with world powerhouses Arsenal FC of England and CF Pachuca of Mexico, signaled big expectations for the Rapids in 2007.
Unfortunately, a 10-game winless streak derailed Colorado's bid to reach the playoffs for a sixth straight year. Fernando Clavijo’s squad made it close as they entered the final weekend of the season with the playoffs still within reach. The team’s defense excelled throughout the year, tied for third fewest goals-against this season, however the attackers truggles to produce and subsequently the Rapids missed out. The season began promisingly, with the opening of Dick's Sporting Goods Park, when Herculez Gomez christened the new stadium with a goal 19 minutes into his debut as a member of the Rapids. Colorado would go on to win the game 2-1 and would start the season 4-2-3, challenging for the lead in the Western Conference.
Starting with a three-game road trip, Colorado were unable to win a game in the months of June and July. The team picked up ties at Chicago and at Kansas City and battled to a draw with Columbus in front of a packed house on the July 4. August saw a turnaround for the squad as they earned a full 9 points from a three-game home stand to close out the month. During this stretch they defeated both 2007 MLS Cup finalists, Houston (1-0) and New England (3-0), and the David Beckham-less LA Galaxy (3-0) in a game that saw Conor Casey, Colin Clark, and Mike Petke each score their first goals for the Rapids. September produced another disappointing record (0-2-3) and Colorado entered the final month of the season needing three wins in three games and some help from around the league if they hoped to make the playoffs.
The Rapids avenged an early season loss at Toronto by beating the expansion franchise 1-0. The next weekend, Colorado traveled to take on the Western Conference leaders, Chivas USA, who hadn't lost at home all season. Defender Ugo Ihemelu put the Rapids ahead, but Orlando Perez equalized in the 78th minute. Colorado wasn’t done yet though, as Casey fought off defenders and took a Coundoul punt to the end line before slotting a perfect pass to Omar Cummings for the game winner in the dying seconds of the match, keeping the Rapids playoffs hopes alive in the process. The Rapids returned home for the crucial final game of the regular season vs. arch-rivals Real Salt Lake, who had already been eliminated from playoff contention. A couple of missed chances in the first half had the Rapids pressing for a goal and victory to keep them in the playoff hunt.
The goal would not come, however, and Real Salt Lake took a late goal to win the game and the Rocky Mountain Cup, ending the Rapids' season. The Rapids reserve team, however, experienced another brilliant season in 2007. Playing their matches at their new home of the Rapids training field at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, MVP Stephen Keel anchored the squad and led them to their second MLS Reserve Division Championship, which they accomplished with an undefeated record. Keel led all players on the Rapids reserve team in minutes played, with 900. He was at the heart of an unbeaten Colorado defense (7-0-3), which surrendered only eight goals in 10 games. He also recorded one goal and one assist on the season from his defensive position. On Oct. 7, in a special doubleheader played inside the stadium, the Rapids reserves clinched the championship trophy with a 3-0 win over the Toronto FC reserves to claim the crown and celebrate with the Rapids’ faithful.
The Rapids also hosted several exhibition and international matches in 2007 to make it a banner inaugural year at their new complex. International teams that the Rapids brought in this season included Mexican clubs Chivas and Pachuca, and the national teams of China, Mexico and Colombia. The Rapids also bid successfully to bring the 2007 MLS All-Star Game to their home complex, which left fans delighted after the All- Stars downed Glasgow Celtic FC at DSG Park. All in all, 2007 was a season to remember at the brand-new Dick's Sporting Goods Park, with multiple international events and the world's eye on the newest shining jewel of the American sports venue landscape, but the Rapids as a team were left wanting, and would look to rebound in 2008.