Editorial (July 26, 2019) – The 2019 Colorado Rapids playoff hopes have been up and down this season. They’ve gotten close to the red line but have cooled off of late. But it’s not about the 10 points between them and the red line.
Colorado Rapids Playoff Hopes: It’s About Seeding, not Point Difference
It’s about the four teams they’ll have to jump to get there.
Colorado had one of the worst starts in league history. Anthony Hudson was sacked. Conor Casey got the team in a seven game unbeaten streak in league play with only two draws. That was against some lesser opposition. The Burgundy Boys are now winless in three, against three decent opponents.
Their next four games will be difficult, playing three teams who currently hold a playoff spot. Fans had a right to be more optimistic during the six week unbeaten streak. One could look at the club being 10 points from the playoffs with 13 games to play and think it’s plausible. Another seven game unbeaten run and it could happen.
But that’s not the point. Colorado would have to jump four teams to get from 11th in the Western Conference to 7th. And they have to do that with this playing seven of their last 10 games on the road.
First, let’s eliminate teams that Colorado is least likely to pass in the standings: The top five teams in the west. LAFC, LA Galaxy, Seattle Sounders, Minnesota United, and San Jose Earthquakes. These are good teams. All are generally playing well and are either significantly better than the Rapids right now and/or could easily gain more ground on them through transfer window moves.
It’s pretty clear Colorado isn’t going to do much in the (currently open) secondary transfer window given the open coaching position and limited financial flexibility.
So, in order to finish 7th, the Rapids are going to have to pass four of these five teams: FC Dallas, Real Salt Lake, Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers, and Sporting KC. Let’s assume the Pids are going to stay ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps, who they are tied on points with (Colorado ahead on goal difference).
Portland is making the playoffs. There’s good precedent for MLS teams who open/re-open a stadium mid-season after a long road trip making the playoffs. They have just two away games in league play the rest of the year. Brian Fernandez has been fantastic. Colorado isn’t catching them.
Colorado could easily pass SKC given their injuries if they get a result in Kansas City in September. They’d then have to pass all of Dallas, RSL, and Houston.
That’s seems unlikely. Houston are fading at the moment but have a 10 point lead on the Rapids. RSL and Dallas have more of their act together. The Pids would probably need another seven game unbeaten streak just to catch up. And then they need to be better than all three of those teams.
That seems highly unlikely. The Colorado Rapids playoff hopes are on thin ice.