Road sweet road: Colorado Rapids credit character, collective responsibility for strong away form
Two years ago, the Colorado Rapids collected 10 points on the road in the entire 2012 season. A year ago, Colorado won all of four times away from the friendly confines of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
This year, however, the road woes seem to be a thing of the past.
The Rapids have two wins and seven points just three road games into the 2014 season – and head coach Pablo Mastroeni thinks he knows exactly why his team has found a spurt of newfound success away from home.
“You come into places with good teams, tough conditions, it doesn’t look like the way you [drew it] out, and I think that’s a credit to the characters on the field to find ways to get results,” Mastroeni told reporters postgame on Saturday. “They’ve really taken that responsibility and found ways to get results in really difficult places to play.”
Edson Buddle’s 77th-minute goal -- the 99th of his MLS career -- after terrific work from both Dillon Powers and Dillon Serna handed the Rapids their third win of the young season, pushing Colorado near the top of the Western Conference standings in the season’s early going.
The story, however, isn’t that the Rapids are perched near the top of the standings. It’s how they got there.
Colorado had to travel nearly 3,000 miles north of the border for their last two matches, first a 2-1 win away to Vancouver last week, then Saturday’s win at Toronto. Facing two different teams in two different cities on two different surfaces, the Rapids pulled out a combined six points – the kind of feat that traditionally has been hard for them to come by.
“[Toronto] is a tough place to come play, and everybody knows that,” Rapids captain Drew Moor said postgame, noting that it was the Rapids’ first-ever result against Toronto FC at BMO Field (1-6-0 all time). “The character and the fashion in which we did it is very positive and we can take a lot from this game today.”
The road has traditionally been a place of particular struggle for the Rapids, who hold perhaps the league’s greatest home-field advantage thanks to Denver’s mile-high altitude. But this year, away form has been an early advantage for Mastroeni’s side, and his team intends on keeping it that way.
“To [win] away, for us, is big,” Buddle told reporters postgame. “It’s not easy to win [on the road] in this league, and every time you do you have to celebrate.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.