Commerce City, Colo. - Ask any Colorado Rapids fan that attended any of the Independence Day matches at either of the club's first two stadiums, and it's likely they have similar memories of the games: dramatic ending and winning.
Colorado won 10 of 11 matches on the 4th of July at the old Mile High Stadium and Invesco Field. Six times the Rapids gave up the first goal, but came back to win the game. In four of those six wins, the winning goal was scored in the 83rd minute or later.
But somewhere between downtown Denver and Commerce City, that July 4th magic was lost. The Rapids have won one of five 4thFest games at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, despite five consecutive sellout matches.
With the Vancouver Whitecaps the rival on Wednesday, an another sellout expected, can the Rapids re-discover the magic of old?
"I think so," said midfielder Jeff Larentowicz. "Whenever there's an event like the 4th of July, it brings more people out to the stadium. And with a sold out stadium, everyone is going to feel the obligation to play well and to show well for the fans."
Head coach Oscar Pareja agrees.
"We have to take advantage of that mental high that a player receives from being supported by his home fans," said Pareja. "The 4th of July has always been a special game in Colorado, for the fans, for the players, and for the club. If our players can find a little bit of that connection with the fans, there is something within the player that allows him to give just a little bit more."
Pareja never faced Colorado on the 4th of July during his playing days, but says his Dallas teammates would often talk about how the Rapids always won those matches. He wants to bring that winning mentality back.
"What is sometimes called magic or extra motivation in soccer can be found on these 4th of July games because the stadium is full, and there's a sense of family, of liberty, and of patriotism,” he said. “When all those things come together, it can bring something extra to a player and a game."
A limited number of seats to the match are still available and can be purchased by CLICKING HERE. The gates will open at 6 pm, kickoff is set for 7:30, and the annual fireworks show will begin approximately 20 minutes after the game.