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Playoffs long out of reach, Colorado Rapids embracing spoiler's role

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Over a turbulent 2017 season, the Colorado Rapids long ago lost their grasp of both the Rocky Mountain Cup and the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. They're still playing for their fans, jobs and personal pride, though.

And if their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals spend a nervous week heading into Decision Day presented by AT&T?

So much the better.

"It’s just about pride at this point,” Rapids defender Kortne Ford said after Sunday's 1-0 home victory over Real Salt Lake, which kept the visitors one point and two spots below the playoff line with just one match to go. “When you’re on a team that’s not going to make the playoffs, the focus turns to how many teams you can knock out of the playoffs. That’s what we’re looking to do next week at Seattle as well.”

The Sounders have already clinched a spot in the Western Conference postseason, but Ford's point stands. For a team sitting 10th in the 11-team West, all that's left is to try to build momentum for next season and mess up some other team's chances along the way.

“[Goalkeeper] Tim Howard gave a great speech before the game about giving to the fans and that we honored their patience, their support, and their loyalty throughout the season,” Rapids interim head coach Steve Cooke said postgame. “I couldn’t be happier that we were able to get them the three points tonight.”

Colorado's defensive toughness in holding on after Joshua Gatt's third-minute goal also bodes well going forward, Cooke said. RSL outshot the home side 30-2 and held a 2-1 advantage in possession, but still couldn't find the net.

“I’m really, really pleased that we could raise the level of intensity and fight tonight," Cooke said. "When you play these rivalry games, it’s not always going to be the most beautiful game. We came out with a determination, a focus, and a looseness as well when they maybe felt a bit of pressure from nerves.”