Commerce City, Colo. - Don't count the Colorado Rapids out of the playofsf just yet. Despite being down 2-0 to Sporting KC heading into Wednesday's second leg of the Conference Semifinal, the Rapids have history on their side.
The last two times Colorado have found themselves in this situation - dropping the opening game of a playoff series - they went on the road and claimed victory to advance to the next round.
After losing the opening game of the 2002 quarterfinals 4-2 at Dallas, the Rapids came back to Colorado and won 1-0 to send the series - in which the winner was the first team to five points - back to Texas. In the third game, Dallas took an early lead but Colorado's John Spencer equalized and the match ended tied 1-1. With both teams having won one game each and tying the third, the series was decided in a golden goal overtime, with midfielder Mark Chung scoring in the 101' to send the Rapids to the semifinals.
In 2006, Colorado lost to Dallas in Denver 2-1 in the 1st leg of the Semifinal Series. On the return leg, forward Carlos Ruiz scored minutes into the second half to put Dallas up by two goals on aggregate with less than 35 minutes to play. However Colorado's Nicolas Hernandez scored in the 57' and 83' to tie the series at 3-3 and send it to two 15-minute overtime periods. Dallas' Clarence Goodson scored in the first period but Clint Mathis hit a bomb of a goal with six minutes to play to once again tie the match and send it to penalty kicks, where the Rapids won when Pablo Mastroeni converted the final PK. (WATCH HIGHLIGHTS)
COME FROM BEHIND
On April 13, 2010, the Rapids ended one of the longest streaks in team history when they came from behind to defeat Kansas City in KC 2-1 in a single-elimination U.S. Open Cup play-in match. Prior to that victory, the last time Colorado had won a game in any competition in which they conceded the first goal was on May 6, 2006, going 0-45-14 since. Later, Colorado came from behind to defeat the Galaxy 3-1 in LA in October to clinch their first playoff spot since 2006, and then came from behind at MLS Cup 2010 to defeat Dallas 2-1 in overtime to win their first title.
In 2011, Colorado came from behind to win three more times - also all on the road: at Houston on May 4 (2-1), at San Jose on August 13 (2-1), and at Vancouver on October 2 (2-1).
ON THE ROAD: In 2011, the Rapids had their best road regular season record since 1999, when the shootout was still place. With a road record of 6-7-4, Colorado collected 22 road points, second only to the 23 road points picked up in 1999, when the team went 9-7-0 with two shootout wins (one point each) and two losses (0 points). Colorado was also 1-1-1 away from home in Champions League play.
In the playoffs, the Rapids have the highest goals per road game (1.24) in MLS history among teams with 10 or more away playoff games. Their 21 road goals trails only LA's 26.
IT'S BEEN DONE
Since MLS moved to the aggregate goal home-and-home playoff series in 2003, in every year but one there's been a come-from-behind victory after a team lost the first game. It started that first year, when the LA Galaxy defeated San Jose 2-0 in the first leg. LA then scored two early goals in game two to go up 4-0 on aggregate, but San Jose battled back to score five unanswered goals and win the series 5-4.
2004: LA defeats Colorado 2-1 on aggregate after losing the first game 1-0; San Jose takes a 2-0 lead on Kansas City but KC wins game two 3-0 to advance.
2005: New England loses the opener 1-0 to New York but wins game two 2-0 to win 3-2 on aggregate.
2006: Houston defeats Chivas USA 2-0 in game two after losing the opener 1-0; New England loses the first 1-0 to Chicago but comes back to win the second game 3-1; Colorado see above.
2007: Houston comes back to beat Dallas 4-1 in game two after dropping the opener 1-0.
2008: the only year no team came back from an opening game loss.
2009: Chicago lose game one to New England 2-1 but win the return leg 2-0.
2010: San Jose lost the opener to New York 1-0 but defeated the Red Bulls 3-1 in game two.