A coaching change roughly two-thirds into the 2008 season brought the Colorado Rapids within one minute of reaching the MLS Cup Playoffs. Englishman Gary Smith took over the club's head coaching duties on an interim basis in August after Fernando Clavijo and the team agreed to go separate ways.
The season kicked off with the Rapids defeating the LA Galaxy 4-0 in front of a then record crowd of 18,713 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park tying a club-record for margin of victory. Terry Cooke was named the MLS Player of the Week for his one-goal, two-assist performance in that match.
The next 13 games were an up-and-down affair with the club failing to win two games in a row, but never losing more than two at a time. During this stretch, Tom McManus would score a 40-yard bomb against Chivas USA that would be among the Top-10 MLS Goals of the Year.
On the Fourth of July, Colorado would again set an attendance record for Dick's Sporting Goods Park (18,776) in another 4-0 victory, this time against the MLS Cup runners-up the New York Red Bulls. Five days later, Colin Clark would covert a penalty kick in the ninth round of a shootout to defeat UANL Tigres in an internationally friendly to win the Tecate Cup.
Pablo Mastroeni and Christian Gomez represented the Rapids in the 13th annual MLS All-Star Game in Toronto. Both players were named starters, as Gomez would go on to score in the match leading to a 32 victory over West Ham United.
In his first match at the helm, Smith guided the Rapids to a 2-1 victory over Kansas City on August 16.
The Rapids went undefeated in September posting a 3-0-1 record in the month that included two road victories. One of those road triumphs was a 5-4 win on a rainy night over New York at Giants Stadium. Conor Casey scored the fourth hat-trick in club history with the third coming in the 90th minute off a Mehdi Ballouchy cross. Entering the final two games of the season, Colorado would need to win both to avoid missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in team history. The Rapids first traveled to Los Angeles to take on Chivas USA and Casey would convert a penalty kick to keep the Rapids postseason hopes alive. In the season finale at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, the Rapids would carry a 1-0 lead over Real Salt Lake for 71 minutes before giving up a 90th minute equalizer to end their season.