After the first nine games of the 2021 MLS season, the Rapids are in a good position, holding a 5-3-1 (W-L-D) record and third place in the Western Conference. But the work is far from over.

The final 25 games of the regular season schedule are going to come fast, with just under 20 weeks to play them. Here are the key matchups to circle on your calendar as we prepare to run full speed ahead into the rest of the season.

The Best of the West Face Off on July 4

Seattle is the team to beat right now, currently leading the Supporter’s Shield race and dominating MLS in goal differential with a +11. The Rapids will have their chance to dethrone the league leaders soon, though, with a big matchup on the Fourth of July.

The last time the Rapids played Seattle was a huge 3-1 victory in Colorado near the end of the 2020 season. This all but eliminated Seattle from Supporter’s Shield contention and put the Rapids in the driver’s seat to earn a playoff berth.

This time, there is plenty of season remaining, but this matchup between two Western Conference heavyweights will be one that teams across the league are watching.

An SKC-Filled August

The Rapids have near back-to-back matchups against another dominant team in the West in Sporting Kansas City. The first of these two games will be at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on Aug. 7 and then mere weeks later in Kansas City on Aug. 28.

A matchup against Sporting always has a bit more on the line, with the proximity of the two original MLS clubs always adding extra heat to the match. Add in that Rapids forward Diego Rubio used to play for SKC, and you have all you need to get the blood flowing in those competitions.

Did we mention that Sporting is currently in second in the West and scoring more goals than any team in MLS? These six-point matchups in close succession against a conference rival will be two games you won’t want to miss.

Already A Lot on the Line for Decision Day

While it might feel too early to talk about Decision Day, with limited off weeks between now and then, it will be here be here before you know it.

This year, the Rapids will host their final game of the regular season when they rematch LAFC. There is no shortage of storylines for this one already. In 2019, the Rapids battled LAFC on Decision Day and fell victim to Carlos Vela, who was closing out his unstoppable Golden Boot run.

Earlier this year, the two teams squared off, and Colorado suffered one of their two losses this season in a 2-1 defeat that left the Rapids wanting more.

LAFC has yet to be above the playoff line this year, so it will be interesting to see how they emerge from the international break. This matchup has the potential to have major playoff implications and gives the Rapids the opportunity to get one back against the Black and Gold.

Bonus: Rocky Mountain Cup Showdown

You know there is a lot on the docket to end the season when you can talk this much before even mentioning the Rocky Mountain Cup and a matchup against Real Salt Lake.

The Rapids will face RSL three times this year, the first on July 24 in Utah, the second at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park on Aug. 21 and the third on Oct. 16 back on the other side of the Rockies.

The RMC is back where it belongs in Colorado following the Rapids’ resounding comeback victory over RSL at Rio Tinto Stadium in 2020. The second leg and 5-0 win for Colorado taught us that anything is possible when it comes to this rivalry, so all three of these games will be ones you don’t want to miss.