COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs are in full swing after a dramatic Conference Semfinal round wrapped up on Sunday. Yet for the second straight season, the Colorado Rapids are spending the duration of the playoffs watching from their living rooms.
Of the 12 teams that did make the playoffs, eight posted at least 10 home wins (and three more had nine). That double-digit benchmark is what Colorado’s front office is striving for as the team aims to return to the postseason in 2016.
“The reason why we’re not in the playoffs today is we don’t have a better home record. It’s a boulder sitting in your belly,” Rapids technical director and vice president of soccer operations Paul Bravo told reporters last week. “When you look at the clubs in the playoffs, they have some of the best home record. We need to get back to that. When you win 10 or more games at home, you put yourself in the playoff conversation every year.”
Safe to say, the Rapids did not come close to the 10-win threshold this time around.
Colorado posted a 5-7-5 record at Dick's Sporting Goods Park this season, a bleak mark that team president Tim Hinchey – who has repeatedly emphasized the importance of making DSGP “a fortress” – called “absolutely inexcusable.”
“All I can say is we collectively realize that it’s not good enough,” Hinchey added. “Our ticket revenues and partnerships were up, but none of that matters without home victories.”
Adding to the sting of the Rapids’ lack of points at home was the manner in which many of them were dropped, losing or tying games against D.C., Portland, LA and Rocky Mountain Cup rivals Real Salt Lake despite holding early advantages in each of those matches.
“We put ourselves in a position to have some good games at home so we need to evaluate every aspect of it,” Bravo said.
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Regardless of coach, system or player, Colorado’s high altitude and unique weather already offer inherent home-field advantages. It's up to the Rapids to better utilize those factors to their favor next season.
“It’s something that we need to get right. There’s no excuse,” said Bravo. “The next 17 [home] games are the most crucial games for this club, so we can bring our fans a home playoff match.”