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.
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.”
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.