CenturyLink, turf, goal drought: Colorado Rapids must overcome inauspicious trends in playoff clash
If the Colorado Rapids are going to pull off an upset on Wednesday night in their Knockout Round playoff match with the Seattle Sounders (10:30 pm ET, NBCSN), they’re going to need to reverse history – both recent and distant – to do so.
The Rapids will enter Wednesday’s winner-take-all match without a single goal in their last three road matches, a span in which they’ve gone 0-3-0, including a 3-0 drubbing at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday night.
While they have mostly shown improvement on the road this season, Colorado regressed on the road over the last six weeks of the season, a problem that will need to be corrected quickly.
“We have to turn the page,” defender Drew Moor said on Sunday night. “We matched up well against [Seattle] in the regular season. We’re going to have to use that, we’re going to have to use [Sunday’s] match and motivate [ourselves] a little bit. No matter where the game is, we’ve for the most part performed well on the road this season.”
Not only has the road been a struggle for the Rapids, Seattle in particular has been an impossible place for them to win at over the years – literally. They are 0-5-1 at Seattle all-time, with the lone result coming on July 20 in a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field.
Finally, the artificial turf at CenturyLink presents yet another challenge for Colorado, who are 0-3-1 in their four matches on turf this season.
But adversity isn’t anything new for head coach Oscar Pareja and his men. For a team that battled through an injury crisis of epic proportions at the beginning of the season and has exceeded expectations all year, Wednesday is just the latest challenge in a season filled with them.
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“You can’t feel sorry for yourself [in MLS] if you didn’t achieve things,” Pareja said on Sunday night. “The boys did great to get into the playoffs. I have to recognize this group of players have done a tremendous job getting into the playoffs – that is not easy.”
The Rapids traveled by bus straight from Vancouver to Seattle on Monday, where they’ll remain before Wednesday night’s clash.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.