The Colorado Rapids have been one of the best stories of the MLS regular season after starting their campaign under the radar and wrapping it up in a dogfight for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta joined the latest episode of The Call Up to discuss Colorado's 2021 success and how exactly the club managed to pull it off. To hear Acosta tell it, there was always a belief internally that they could surpass the mild preseason expectations that surrounded the group.
"Yes, we always had belief in ourselves," Acosta told co-hosts Susannah Collins and Jillian Sakovits. "You can talk about 'we won't be at the top', but it's a matter of executing it and I think we've done a great job this year. We've kind of gone under the radar, even now, teams don't really talk about us too much, but we've been slowly climbing up the ranks and we've been pretty consistent throughout the year and getting solid results. Obviously hosting a playoff match is huge and is definitely beneficial for our run in the playoffs, so we're looking to do that. We've got a few more games left and we're obviously trying to pass Kansas City and catch up to Seattle and pass Seattle.
"Overall, it's definitely been a pretty good year and we're happy with how far we've come, but we know we still have a long way to go."
Along the way, head coach Robin Fraser has emerged as a legitimate Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year candidate during his second full year on the sidelines. He originally joined the club in August 2019 after serving as a Toronto FC assistant coach.
A longtime MLS veteran during his playing days who suited up for Colorado from 2001-03, Acosta said that Fraser's detail-oriented and player-friendly approach has been key to getting the Rapids near the top of the West table.
"He's a guy that's super detail-oriented, we watch a lot of film, a lot of video, despite them being very long," Acosta said. "He's a guy that likes to analyze everything. He's done a great job of giving us the information to execute his system to the fullest potential and I think we've done just that.
"He's not only a good coach but a great guy, a guy you can talk to outside of football and a guy that's understanding, that's played at the highest level with the US national team, MLS. I didn't know too much about his career until the [25 Greatest] came out and I see my coach there and I'm like, 'Oh, you pretty good!' He tries to jump into train with us, maybe not as good as he once was, but you can still see some quality, his brain is still there. He's been a great coach, been tremendous for us, he's a key reason why we're in the place we're in."
For more from Acosta, be sure to check out the full episode of The Call Up here.