Commerce City, Colo. - Watching the Colorado Rapids training session Thursday morning, one would be surprised to know it was a team that had been eliminated from playoff contention less than 12 hours before. The team was sharp and active, showing no signs that there are only three games remaining this year with no chance at hardware.
But the reality and the disappointment was obvious on the faces of each player and coach afterwards as they walked back to the lockerroom .
After the Vancouver Whitecaps defeated Chivas USA on Wednesday, the Rapids, Portland, and Chivas were knocked out of playoff contention. For the Rapids, it marks the sixth time in their 17 year history without a postseason, and the first since 2009.
"Very disappointed, especially because of the potential of this team," forward Omar Cummings told ColoradoRapids.com. "It seemed that nothing went right this year. But it's important that we still be professional and try to finish the season as best we can."
"Naturally there is frustration and pain for not qualifying for the playoffs," coach Oscar Pareja said. "It's a compromise that we have with our fans and our club. But the reality is that we continue building with this group that throughout the season showed signs of progress in what we're after. And while we were chasing (the playoff berth), this team kept working and fighting and improving. We have a group that grew stronger and we expect to be even stronger next year."
There will be plenty of time to dissect the season and what went wrong, what went right, and what needs to improve. For now, the team continues preparing for the final three matches, starting Saturday when the Western Conference-leading San Jose Earthquakes visit Dick's Sporting Goods Park (7 pm MT).
"The pride of this club is at stake," Cummings said. "And though we didn't make the playoffs, we're going to be professional and try to win the last three games we have left."
“We’ve still got three games left and we want to get all nine points still, so that doesn’t change the mentality of the group as far as going out strong and ending the season the right way,” goalkeeper Matt Pickens told MLSsoccer.com on Wednesday.