Getting it right this time: Colorado Rapids mindful of last July's swoon as they open pivotal homestand

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Around this time last season, the wheels didn’t just come off for the Colorado Rapids; they rolled down a mountain and sank to the bottom of the ocean.

Hovering around the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference heading into July 2012, the Rapids went 0-6-0 during that fateful month – eventually going 1-9-1 through July and August – to seal a doomed campaign.

This year, the Rapids are heading into July in a similar position, but they’re hoping to avoid a similar summer swoon.

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Colorado sit just a point out of a playoff spot heading into a critical three-game homestand that starts on Thursday with a Fourth of July showdown with the New York Red Bulls (9:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE) at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

The good news for the Rapids faithful is that their team will return home on the back of a dramatic 4-3 win in Montreal on Saturday, with Tony Cascio’s 95th-minute goal ending a three-game Colorado losing streak and handing the Impact their first home loss of the season.

“Hopefully this is the spark that we need to get a stretch down and get back home and get points,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said after the Rapids’ victory on Saturday. “We can’t wait to get back home.”

READ: Cascio helps Colorado finally find the finishing touch

But now, the challenge is turning that goal into momentum at DSGP, where the Rapids are a mediocre 3-3-2 (while maintaining a respectable 3-4-3 away mark). Colorado host three Eastern Conference foes in the three-game homestand, starting with the Red Bulls and wrapping up with D.C. United (Sunday) and the Revolution (July 17).

Unlike last summer, a home-heavy July slate and improving health have put the Rapids in a better position to turn this midseason stretch into a launchpad rather than a dead weight.

“It was a tough game to win [in Montreal] and to win like that gives us so much confidence to go forward,” midfielder Dillon Powers said. “So there’s a lot of momentum setting forth for the next [three] home games.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.