Commerce City, Colo. - Over the weekend the San Jose Earthquakes became the first MLS team to secure a place in the 2012 MLS Cup Playoffs. No teams have been eliminated from contention as of September 9, and the Rapids are optimistic that can make a final push to move into a playoff spot come late October.
"It’s there [the opportunity to make the playoffs] for the people that want to push," Oscar Pareja said following last Wednesday's win over Portland. "One of the things that I have seen from this group is that I haven't seen this group quit for one minute."
The top five teams in points from each conference at the end of the regular season (10 total) will qualify for the postseason. The 'Quakes currently sit atop the Western Conference with a record of 16-6-5 and 53 points, assuring that they will finish in the top five of the conference since at least four teams cannot catch them on points. San Jose also leads the race for the MLS Supporters Shield, a major turnaround for a team that missed the playoffs last year with a record of 8-12-14.
The Vancouver Whitecaps currently hold the fifth spot in the West with 37 points after 28 games. Next is FC Dallas with 33 points in 29 games, followed by the Rapids with 29 points after 28 matches.
The Rapids play the LA Galaxy on Friday at The Home Depot Center (9 pm MT, Altitude) and then the Whitecaps in Vancouver on September 23 (5:30 pm MT, Altitude).
"We haven't been to LA yet this year, (but) we feel like we gave a game away at Vancouver earlier in the summer," captain Drew Moor said last week. "If you get something out of those two games, you never know."
Last year Colorado clinched a playoff spot with one game remaining by finishing fifth in the Conference. In the 2010 MLS Cup run, the Rapids lost a tie-breaker to the 'Quakes and finished sixth in the final West standings. However, at that time, they still qualified for the postseason but moved into the Eastern Conference bracket on their way to the title game.
With six games remaining this season, there are many possible scenarios which could affect the final standings. For the Rapids, the focus is on what they can control.
"We're not out of it till we're out of it," Moor added. "We still believe we can continue to win games like (Wednesday). Our belief right now is still the playoffs."