Five Colorado Rapids matches to watch in 2014

Panel offers their suggestion on top 2014 games aside from July 4, RMC matches

The 2014 MLS schedule was released today, and everyone has already started looking at the most exciting matchups of next season. While the Home Opener, July 4th match, and the three games in the Rocky Mountain Cup series are always circled on the calendar, we asked a few people associated with the Rapids – three executives, two media members – which other game jumped out at them when they first saw the schedule.
 
TIM HINCHEY, RAPIDS PRESIDENT
Saturday, March 15 at New York Red Bulls

“It’s right between the season opener and the home opener, but this is a big game too, for a lot of reasons. First, New York is a big club, a quality team and is coming off their most successful season, having won the Supporters Shield in 2013. It’s also the Red Bulls’ home opener, which means there will be a great crowd and a lot of excitement. But this match is also a chance for a national audience to see us play on NBC Sports Network, and I hope we’ll be able to make a statement in front of the whole country.”
 
PAUL BRAVO, RAPIDS TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Saturday, March 29 vs. Sporting Kansas City

“One match that I’m looking forward to is our March 29 game against Sporting Kansas City. They were always a rival of ours, being the team closest to us geographically before Salt Lake came into the league, and there’s a history there too. We knocked them out of the playoffs in 1997, and they knocked us out in 2011, and we’ve also played a lot of exciting regular season games with them. Now that the schedule has shifted and they’re in the Eastern Conference, we only get one crack at them every year. Facing an MLS Cup finalist in an early season game will be a good test for us, and should entertain the fans here at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.”
 
NICK GROKE, RAPIDS WRITER FOR THE DENVER POST
Friday, July 18 at Portland Timbers FC

“When did the Rapids peak during the early summer of 2013? Even more than a dramatic 4-3 stoppage-time victory over the Impact in Montreal, Oscar Pareja might think it was a 3-0 LOSS to the Timbers in Portland. The Colorado coach often pointed to that game as the best his team looked over the summer stretch. Over the first 11 minutes, Colorado attacked with verve and creativity. And they controlled possession throughout the game, with an 18-6 advantage in shots. So it's likely Pareja will relish a chance to erase the memory of that outcome – and another 1-0 loss at Portland on Sept. 20 – in his next trip to Portland. The Rapids travel to Oregon for a national TV Friday night game on July 18.”
 
RICHARD FLEMING, RAPIDS DIRECTOR OF BROADCASTING
Wednesday, August 20 vs. LA Galaxy

“For me, the midweek home game against LA Galaxy on August 20. It’s the 25th game of the season, and the start of what I feel will be a make-or-break stretch for the Rapids. That’s the start of a tricky seven-game run, which includes two against the Galaxy, two against the Sounders, plus Portland, the third Rocky Mountain Cup encounter and a home meeting with San Jose.”
 
CHRIS BIANCHI, RAPIDS BEAT WRITER FOR MLSSOCCER.COM
Saturday, August 30 at Seattle Sounders FC

“The Rapids finally broke their winless spell at CenturyLink Field in a historic 1-1 draw on July 20. Heading into the final nine games of the season, collecting another result in Seattle will be key to the Rapids' playoff hopes, particularly with likely key tilts in L.A. and home to Portland looming shortly afterwards. Collecting an important late-season result in one of MLS' toughest venues could be the first sign that the Rapids have taken their next step forward.”