The Colorado Rapids mustered just two shots on goal against the New England Revolution but still found a way to beat perennial MLS Cup participant New England on its home turf. The 1-0 win has the Rapids thinking much better thoughts about the 2008 season than most of us would have expected.
It’s just three games into the season, but these Rapids are playing with a swagger that hasn’t been seen in Colorado in a decade. Whether it is Christian Gomez instilling confidence in his new team, or Fernando Clavijo coaching like a man whose contract is ready to expire, the Rapids have found a formula that is working well, at least for now.
SBI Correspondent Craig de Aragon watched Colorado’s 1-0 win against the Revs and felt something different about this version of the Rapids as well. Here is his take on Colorado’s win and the vibe surrounding the first-place team in the West.
A familiar start, but a different vibe
By Craig de Aragon
We’ve been down this road before. We know what’s behind that door. We’ve gotten our hopes up, only to be let down again and again. But this time it feels different. One of these years it has to be different right?
The Rapids sit atop the Western Conference Standings, after a hard fought, sloppy win in New England. That shouldn’t be a surprise; it seems the Rapids are always in first place in April. If the championship was decided in April, the Rapids would be in it every year.
Last year was no different, out of the gate; the Rapids tore it up, and sat on top of the table for much of the spring. Then, just like always, they succumb to the rigors of the season and fall back into the normal routine of struggling to make the playoffs. So if you run into a Rapids supporter, please excuse them for not being too excited yet. It’s not that they’re jaded by victory; it’s that they’re hardened by defeat. Yet through that barrier of self pity, something feels different about this year.
Because of this correspondent thing, I’ve taken a new perspective on watching the game, more of an “Oh crap, what am I going to write about” perspective. So while watching the game Saturday I was thinking “Oh crap, what am I going to write about” for 67 minutes. For 67 minutes, I was ready to lash out at the Rapids. For 67 minutes I was ready to lambaste the effort of the Rapids players. For 67 minutes I was cursing at the TV to get something going and ready to write the same thing.
Then, gloriously, it was as if it happened in slow motion, Jose Burciaga Jr.’s slow lofting service meandered its way into the box and miraculously found the forehead of the smallest guy on the field, a guy who has never scored a MLS goal, a guy that probably wouldn’t be seeing the field if it weren’t for injuries, Nick LaBrocca. His header past Matt Reis snapped me out of my pessimism, made me realize, that yes, we’re seeing something different.
We’re seeing a team that won’t give up, a team down 2-0 in Kansas City that clawed its way back, a team that Saturday battled the elements, and sloppy play to win. We’re seeing a team that most of its pieces have developed together and provided a certain level of familiarity and chemistry with each other, Stephen Keel, Kosuke Kimura, Nick LaBrocca, John DiRaimondo, Omar Cummings, Bouna Coundul and Colin Clark all came through the developmental system the past few years. We’re seeing a team that has consistent leadership on-field in Terry Cooke. We’re seeing the younger players mature, maybe enough so that it could be time to say goodbye to some older, more experienced players, eh hem…Pablo Mastroeni and Jovan Kirovski.
This is not to say that there isn’t room for improvement, there definitely is. But the way this spring feels, makes me think that good things are coming this summer and fall.