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Fleming: Rapids Enter Rare Air With Home Streak

The last time there was a draw in a Rocky Mountain Cup encounter at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park was August 3, 2013. The contest finished 2-2, which was enough to bring the silverware back to Colorado for the first time since 2006, the second year of the rivalry.

On Saturday, the 1-1 stalemate was only the first installment of the 2022 edition - with leg two at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 9 - but the result was enough for the Colorado Rapids to extend their regular season unbeaten home run to a club record-equaling 19 games. Only once previously had the Rapids managed such a stretch, between March 12, 2016, and March 18, 2017 (12-0-7).

Annoyingly, the team to end the unbeaten home run on that occasion, halting it at 19, was Real Salt Lake on April 15 five years ago. The Rapids were leading 1-0 and comfortable, with the goal from Kevin Doyle, when Jared Watts was adjudged to have handled in the penalty area, was duly sent off, and RSL equalized from the spot in the 85th minute. Brooks Lennon snatched the game winner three minutes later, with his first goal in MLS.

RSL was unable to end this latest run, but they did manage to score the first goal against the Rapids at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park in 2022, albeit a highly controversial penalty. Lalas Abubakar - who made his Rapids debut against RSL on May 11, 2019 - slid in for the leveler 11 minutes after the interval for his sixth career goal on what was his 99th MLS appearance.

One note regarding that Rapids debut for Abubakar almost three years ago: it finished 3-2 to RSL. The Rapids trailed 2-0 but fought back with goals from Kellyn Acosta and a first in MLS for Danny Wilson. Sam Johnson added a third for RSL, before Kei Kamara saw his penalty saved for the Rapids. With the loss, the Rapids slumped to 0-9-2 to start the season.

Eight days later, the Rapids went to LA Galaxy and won 1-0. In fact, they went unbeaten over the seven games following that Rocky Mountain Cup reversal (5-0-2). That loss to RSL will have hurt, but it proved a turning point, and - as we now know - not just for that season. So, as disappointing as Saturday’s result may have been, view it as one game in one moment in time.

Anyway, back to the home record.

Austin FC was the last team to triumph in a regular season game inside the Rapids’ fortress, winning the 2021 home opener 3-1. Since then, Robin Fraser’s side has gone 11-0-8.

Only six other clubs have gone unbeaten at home longer. The MLS record is held by Houston Dynamo, who went 30 home games undefeated between July 9, 2011, and April 28, 2013. Game number 30 was a 1-1 draw against the Rapids. Former Rapids player Giles Barnes struck a long-distance equalizer for the Dynamo, who had Brad Davis dismissed late on.

This was a bittersweet result for the Rapids. Yes, they let slip a 1-0 lead - courtesy of Drew Moor - but the outcome meant Houston moved ahead of RSL, who had gone 29 unbeaten at home between 2009-11. The RSL record began with a 1-1 draw at home on June 6, 2009 … against the Colorado Rapids.

Sporting Kansas City once went 24 unbeaten inside Children’s Mercy Park (2016-17), LA Galaxy’s best run stands at 23 (2014-15), with two clubs nestled on 22, Columbus Crew SC (2008-09) and Portland Timbers (2013-14).

Columbus started their record run with a 2-1 win over the Rapids, on June 28, 2008. Opening the scoring for Columbus on that day was former Boca Juniors and LA Galaxy head coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto, now in charge of the Paraguay national side. Nick LaBrocca scored for the Rapids.

Three other clubs had their unbeaten home stretch snapped at 19 - FC Dallas, LAFC, and New York Red Bulls. Dallas suffered their first home defeat in 20 games when Dominique Badji’s goal gave the Rapids a 1-0 win inside Toyota Stadium on September 10, 2016.

The Rapids will look to make it 20 unbeaten at home when newcomers Charlotte FC visits Commerce City on April 23.