Major League Soccer is more than just a season. In north America, there is the ‘regular season’ and the ‘post-season’ - and the Colorado Rapids, for the third time in four years, have fought through to the latter.
The regular season consists of 34 games for teams in both the Eastern and Western Conference, after which the top five in each continue on, while the remaining nine can only look to the campaign to come.
In finishing fifth, following a 3-0 loss at the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday, the Rapids - boasting a club record haul of 51 points - next meet Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and the Seattle Sounders in a one-off knockout match.
The winner of Wednesday’s game, in Seattle, will then go through to the semi-finals of the Western Conference, which are played home and away.
Victory for the Rapids would mean a two-legged meeting with Portland Timbers, the team which finished top of the standings after 34 games. The other Conference semi would involve second and third, Real Salt Lake and Robbie Keane’s LA Galaxy (the 2011 and 2012 MLS Cup winners).
For the Rapids - who are owned by Mr Stan Kroenke, the majority shareholder in Arsenal - it has been an impressive season. MLS Cup winners in 2010, the team has been rebuilt under former Columbia international Oscar Pareja. An injury list as long as your arm at the start of the year meant Pareja was forced to field the untried, untested and unknown.
Two of those unknowns, Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers, have emerged as Rookie of the Year contenders. Goalkeeper Clint Irwin, third choice at the start of the season, is some people’s nod for Newcomer of the Year, with Pareja’s name on the lips of many for Coach of the Year.
Seattle will provide a massive test for the Rapids midweek, despite being undone 5-1 in Colorado on October 5. The Rapids have scaled new heights in 2013. The question now is, how much higher can they go?Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 29 Oct 2013