COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – With only nine games to go in the regular season and 11 points between them and the playoff field in the Western Conference, the Colorado Rapids’ 2012 hopes are on life support after a disappointing 1-1 draw with Chivas USA on Saturday night.
But despite the daunting math, they’re still clinging to the hope that they can compete for a postseason berth.
“Despite the results and the position in the standings, the guys are not quitting,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told reporters after Saturday's draw. “They’re working and fighting for every point. They came out with that attitude, and put that attitude in action [Saturday].”
With four of their next five matches away from the friendly confines of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, the Rapids will need to end their six-game road losing streak to have any hope of clawing their way back into the playoff picture.
First up for Colorado will be a trip to first-place San Jose this Saturday. They'll face a team that may be tops in MLS with 47 points, but it's also a squad the Rapids believe they can beat – as long as they can eliminate the late lapses that have plagued them far too often this season, including allowing a last-gasp equalizer to Chivas USA this past weekend.
“[San Jose] is a team who’s doing well,” midfielder Brian Mullan said after Saturday's match, before referencing Colorado's late loss to San Jose back in June in which they coughed up a late lead. “We dominated them here and the same thing happened again. We have to solve the problems and put our chances in.”
For the Rapids to make the postseason, they’ll likely need wins in seven or eight of their final nine matches, and plenty of help additionally on top of that.
But even with an imposing road ahead, Colorado will try and draw on the positives from this past Saturday’s tie – one in which they outshot Chivas 19-5 – as the foundation for a surprise stretch run.
“We created good chances,” defender Drew Moor said after the draw. “Defensively, I thought we were very good. We kept things tight. I thought we did a lot right in this game with going forward and staying solid in the back.”
The Rapids will hope that same recipe for success will start to pay off.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.