Colorado’s Playoff Challenges

The most likely scenario for Colorado’s playoff finish ends with them in fourth and hosting the play-in game. What do they need to finish higher?
by Greg Moss   |   Friday, October 18, 2013

Mile High Club – column on Colorado Rapids & the Denver area and Colorado soccer scenes.

When you’re looking at a situation in which you can’t control, you start to panic. Hopes and prayers flash through your mind and you wish you had done some things differently in the past. But it’s too late for that, and you have to realize that you still have some control over the future, and hope isn’t lost.

Colorado’s playoff picture

It’s a win out situation for the Rapids. Two matches against the same team could prove beneficial for Colorado. Vancouver comes to Colorado this weekend to try to drop them from the playoff picture. Even sitting with 48 points, the Rapids still sit on the fence of the playoffs. San Jose is only one point behind the Rapids and are poised to plunge in front of Colorado.

The scenario is quite complex in the West.

If Colorado wins out, there’s a chance they could move up beyond the play-in game. If they lose one, and San Jose wins and even draws, Colorado is out. Obviously, if Colorado loses both, they miss the playoffs all together if San Jose wins one. The threat is imminent, but ultimately, making the playoffs after such a long arduous, injury driven season is the only option the Rapids have.

Losing to San Jose nine days ago ruined Colorado’s chances of a one match win to clinch a playoff spot. Like a TV soap opera, the perennial drama masters in Colorado live up to expectations. Fans throughout the country will hold their breath until their lungs burst to see how the playoff picture shapes up.

Dillon Powers

If Dillon Powers is not able to go tomorrow, which is unlikely, Colorado will have a difficult time taking three points from a desperate Vancouver team, who will be throwing everything they have at Colorado’s goal. The rookie has proven to be the general of the trenches, winning the battle in the midfield for Colorado, which is key to linking the offense to the defense, which has been a weakness for the Rapids in the past. The gap between the back four and the strikers has exposed their proneness to counter strikes, which ultimately caused their downfall in 2012.

Creative strengths

Playing Sanchez and Rivero at the same time is an idea that looks good on paper, but doesn’t work on a chalkboard. They seem to fight each other through the game, each trying to be the hero, which creates selfish play as each tries to top the other, even if they’re consciously trying to avoid that scenario. Having fresh creative legs each half a match would be much more beneficial for Colorado, especially when the Rapids will most likely have to play on turf moving into the playoffs. This formula should be utilized through the rest of the season and into the playoffs. If it comes down to a shootout in the playoffs, which is the only way Sanchez and Rivero should be on the field at once, and if Colorado intends on using both of them in the shootout, it may be wise to sub out Hendry Thomas, who has the tendency to kick the ball into the stands and knock beers from the hands of fans.

Game control

Lastly, Colorado needs to control the pace of the match. Vancouver will be playing like San Jose does in that they will be going for the win, and dictating the attack, which is the only way they will make playoffs. If Colorado can control possession, and the speed of the game, they will walk out with three points. Powers may be the key to that.

Needless to say, Colorado must win out and rely on key losses from teams above them to avoid a play-in game with what will most likely be against the Galaxy or the Sounders, either of which will be extremely difficult. At this point, a fourth place finish is the most likely scenario for Colorado.

NEXT UP: October 19 – Colorado Rapids vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo. 6 p.m. EST, MLS Live.

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Greg MOSS

Nationality:
USA
College:
Concordia College
Club Domestic:
Colorado Rapids
Club Foreign:
Everton
Producer of "From the Pitch" with Marcelo Balboa and a personal Rapids podcast. All personality with a face for radio and profile pictures. Born a midwesterner, thankfully transformed into a Rocky Mtn dweller. Covering Colorado Rapids with words and voice
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