1997 Season in Review
Change was the tune for the Rapids in 1997 as a number of new f aces arrived in Colorado. Gone were the Rapids two leading scorers, Shaun Bartlett and Jean Harbor, as well as Chris Woods and Domeni c Kinnear, and in their place came established stars like Adrian Paz and Peter Vermes, as well as upandcoming players like Paul Bravo, Joey DiGiamarino, Marcus Hahnemann, Wolde Harris and Ross Paule. But perhaps the of fseason move came wi th the hiring of new head coach Glenn “Mooch” Myernick to replace the departed Bobby Houghton.
Despite struggling in the early part of the season, Myernick was soon able to get the team to gel and the Rapids were able to qualify for the postseason for the first time in team history. Five of Colorado’s top six scorers were in their first year with the club, including Bravo who scored a teamleading eight goals.
But the Rapids success did not end simply by reaching the postseason. In the opening round, they shocked the topseeded Kansas C ty Wizards in two games, thanks in large to three Bravo goals. Colorado pulled off another upset in the Western Conference Finals when it swept Dallas in two games behind some strong play from Hahnemann, who allowed just one goal in the two games, to reach the MLS Cup.
In front of a capacity crowd of 57,431 at RFK Stadium, the Rapids looked to pull off one more historic upset and earn their first title against the defending champion D.C. United. However it was not to be as United scored once on either side of halftime to take a commanding 20 lead. In the 75th minute Paz cut the lead in half, but it would not be enough and D.C. held on for its second MLS Cup title. But despite falling one step short of their ultimate goal, 1997 was a successful season for the Rapids and set the bar for which all other season’s would be measured.