Now that the 2013 schedule is out, fans without season tickets will be scrolling through to see which home games they can attend. I'm here to give you a hand...or, maybe a nudge.
Teams in MLS have a history of doing much better when playing at home compared to on the road, which is why it's so important to get as many points as possible out of home matches.
March 9 versus Phiadelphia Union: It's the home opener, that should be enough. The Rapids have an impressive 11-2-4 all-time record in the first home match of each season and are riding a nine-game opening day undefeated streak. The last time Colorado lost a home opener was in 2003 to San Jose. Throw in: the Rapids have never lost in five meetings with Philadelphia. (and, it could be former Rapids forward Conor Casey's first game with the Union).
April 6 versus Real Salt Lake: By this day the teams will have already met once in Utah (March 16), so the second game of the Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup could either be the series clincher, allow one team to draw even, or give one side the advantage before the series ends in August. We know the history between the two rivals. We also know that last summer, Oscar Pareja's team was the first to defeat RSL since 2009. There's probably no other 'must attend' game then the one against your fiercest rival.
July 4 versus New York Red Bulls: Yes, it's the annual Independence Day match, but I'm actually more excited to see the explosiveness on the field when these teams meet than the fireworks afterwards. Consider this: the Rapids and Red Bulls have combined to score 42 goals in their last 9 meetings, with the Rapids having the 25-17 edge. They've combined to score 4+ goals in 8 of the 9 games. And, Colorado has outscored NY 13-3 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the last four years. It doesn't seem to matter who the coach or players are, if you want goals, come to this match.
August 3 versus Real Salt Lake: It's the first time since 2008 that Salt Lake visits Colorado twice in one season, and I'm expecting this to be the game where the Rapids fans get back the Rocky Mountain Cup. The past two years have seen massive tifo displayed at Dick's Sporting Goods Park when RSL has come to town, so I'll also be looking forward to see what fans have in store this time around.
October 19 versus Vancouver: I've thought that the meetings with Vancouver last year, where they somehow pullled out two victories and a tie in games that could've (should've) gone to the Rapids, were the difference between the Whitecaps making the playoffs and the Rapids sitting out (Colorado finished six points behind Vancouver). Come to think of it, the 2011 season finale in Vancouver also played a role in the playoffs field - Colorado's come-from-behind win secured a home Wild Card game. So, it's fitting that the teams will meet again - at the end of the season - in 2013. It'll be the Rapids' final regular season home game before closing at Vancouver the following week. The playoffs could be on the line, or seedings, or anything, really. It's a game I plan to be at every year.
If you can't make it to all the games, or even half, pick your own five match so you can take advantage of season ticket perks. The two-time defending champions LA Galaxy come to town, so do defending Supporters Shield winners San Jose Earthquakes and 2012 playoff teams D.C. United and Seattle (twice). Western rivals FC Dallas, Chivas USA, and Portland will visit - making those important matches in the standings. New England, Columbus and Toronto have been thorns in the Rapids sides of late. It should be a fun few months!