When the Colorado Rapids take to the pitch Saturday afternoon at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, they will know it’s the final home game of the 2022 season. And they will know they play the final two games and then the season will be finished. After the Los Angeles Galaxy dispatched the San Jose Earthquakes in Palo Alto last weekend, the Rapids were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
The 2022 season will be remembered for Diego Rubio chasing records and just about every instance of bad luck and injuries going against the Rapids. The odd bounce of the ball and the unpredictable maladies proved too much to overcome for a team that fought every time out.
Now the task turns to finishing the season the right way and creating positives heading into the winter before we fly somewhere warm and start all over again before you know it for 2023. The final home match of 2022 will be about carrying out the job the way professionals do and acknowledging the faithful fans once more.
After all, the last time the Rapids missed the playoffs and closed out their home campaign with a match against FC Dallas, the Rapids won 3-0 and then made the playoffs the following two seasons. There’s no reason this once again can’t be a springboard, rejuvenation, reset for something better. It’s sad to see a season come to a close, but the next one is lurking on the calendar just waiting for us to get to it.
Indeed the Rapids close out 2022 against that familiar Western Conference foe, FC Dallas. The MLS originals sit third in the Western Conference with 50 points. A win against Colorado would assure them a top four finish which guarantees them a home game in the first round of the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. They could theoretically climb as high as second and fall out of the top four to sixth or seventh.
They’ve had a comeback year of their own. In 2021, they finished 11th in the West with 33 points. They hired Nico Estevez to replace Luchi Gonzalez and found a little form along the way. They’re led by American international, Jesus Ferreira who has 18 goals in 31 appearances, and who is presumably going to be on the plane to Qatar with the US Men’s National Team.
So here’s what I’ll be watching for in the final home game of 2022.
Put on a Show
The Rapids have one final opportunity to give everybody in the stands a treat, to show them dynamic soccer and go out with three points at home. Rapids fans have stuck by this team in 2022 during some rocky moments, they’ve lifted up the guys who filled in for injured or departed players and they’ve always believed in the group. That’s a special fanbase. They’ve seen some magic at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in 2022, and they deserve to see a little more. Especially if it means the Rapids can play spoiler against longtime rivals, FC Dallas.
Final Match Magic
Along with it being the final home game of 2022, it will also be the final home game in burgundy for some players on the roster. MLS teams evolve every off-season, it’s the nature of the business. But we already have confirmation that at least one member of the club won’t be back next season. In fact, he won’t be on anybody’s roster in 2023. Defender Drew Moor announced his retirement from professional soccer after 18 years, two MLS Cups, one Supporters’ Shield and three Canadian Championships. It’s an illustrious career that deserves a fitting end. In his first game back at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park to begin his second stint with Colorado, the Rapids hosted Orlando City SC in the home opener of 2020. Moor scored the game-winning goal at the death and I said over the air on the Altitude Radio Network, “The hero returns.” Now the hero departs for his next journey, and he leaves behind 18 years of accomplishments and memories at the professional level. He is a one-of-a-kind soccer player and human being, and I know he’ll get the sendoff he deserves.
Finish the Right Way
I’m sure if you could poke your head into this week’s training sessions, film studies and team meetings, the message is about finishing the season the right way. Next season is mere months from beginning, and the habits being formed now can carry over into next year. The mentality of the group can carry over into next year. The culture that’s been built under Robin Fraser and captain Jack Price is going to be put on display in the final two games of the season. Everybody in that locker room knows they have a job to do, but they also want to go out on a high note, finish strong and continue building a soccer club that, despite setbacks, doesn’t hang its head and doesn’t doubt its mission. Pretty soon, we’ll be back in the stands at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, it’ll be a little chilly and the standings will say 0-0-0 for everybody.