Although the Rocky Mountain Cup was already lost when the Rapids hosted Real Salt Lake last weekend, the Pids were in it for glory. At kickoff, the Pid Army dropped a 6300 square foot tifo and the terraces were filled with banners and flags honoring their club, winless in six games, and at the final whistle, the Rapids repaid their faithful with a 1-0 win over their archrivals, the first such result in the two clubs’ last eight meetings.
I’ve spoken over and over again about the problems plaguing the ‘Pids, and every week, I bring up sloppy defense (at worst) or costly defensive errors (at best), and an infuriating inability to capitalize on what often seem like clear cut chances. To be sure, the first problem was still at play against RSL; there were at least two cringe-worthy “are-you-serious-why-has-that-ball-touched-six-different-players-and-not-been-cleared!?” moments, but ultimately Matt Pickens came up big and kept the Rapids side of the score sheet clean. The second factor was still working against the Rapids as well: the Rapids had SIXTEEN attempts on goal to Salt Lake’s four. The difference in this game was that thanks to Joseph Nane, one of those 16 hit the back of the net early in the match, and the Rapids were able to hold their lead for the rest of the game.
Breaking any winless streak feels good, but breaking a near record long losing streak at home, against your biggest rivals feels electric. If there were a match fit to start an upswing for this club, it would have to be this one. Now that the Rapids have won one match in seven, there are suddenly whispers of playoffs again. The Rapids are sitting 8 points out of the lowest Western Conference playoff seat, and a victory over Salt Lake is a great start, but hasn’t proven that we’re starting a string of successes. I’m not willing to jump on the “it’s a long shot, but we’re going to make the playoffs” bandwagon just yet, but I will acknowledge that the ‘Pids have been the comeback kids this late in the season before, and that Dallas will be a pivotal match.
In my opinion, Dallas is winnable. The clubs are pretty evenly matched this season, although the all-time meeting record does slightly favor Dallas. This is the third and final meeting of these two teams this season, with each team having already claimed a win in the first two games of the series. Head-to-head statistical speculation is everywhere, if that’s what you’re looking for (and it will tell you what I’ve told you, these teams are pretty well matched), but I have to say this: if the Rapids can build on the momentum they started against Salt Lake, we can absolutely take three points against Dallas. I feel good about this. Glory, glory Colorado!
(image courtesy of Corbin Elliott)