Oscar Pareja from sideline against Dallas
Bart Young / Colorado Rapids

Rapids head to Dallas in playoff mode

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Sure, there’s still about a third of the season to go. But for the Colorado Rapids, crunch time is quickly approaching as they head south for a critical clash against FC Dallas on Saturday night (7 pm MT, live on Altitude TV).

The Rapids (8-14-1) are eight points behind the LA Galaxy for the fifth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 11 games left in the regular season, and with Dallas just two points behind the Rapids, Saturday’s game will have a playoff-type intensity for the increasingly desperate visitors.

“We said July was going to be a pivotal month obviously, and we didn’t get done at all what we wanted to do in July,” defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves for these last couple months. Sometimes, when you put pressure on yourself, it’s a good thing. Last Saturday’s result against Salt Lake was a great result, but it’s over now, and we just need to look to build on that performance in Dallas.”

The Rapids took Wednesday off from the practice field, as head coach Oscar Pareja decided to give his side an extra day of rest after a physical 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake Saturday night. The win snapped Colorado’s franchise-tying six-game losing streak, but with three points finally in the bag, they need more to fully push their way back into the playoff picture after losing eight of their previous nine games.

“We have a game in Dallas that’s going to require a lot of energy,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “We can’t afford now to get into stretches of losing. We have to get results.”

Nicks and bruises could cut into Pareja’s roster Saturday night. Striker Conor Casey (above) is likely to miss his second straight game after not practicing Thursday while nursing a hamstring injury, and defender Tyrone Marshall is a possibility to miss out with a calf strain that he aggravated in last Saturday’s win.

But regardless of who’s available and who’s not, the Rapids know three points in Dallas are essential to get back into the postseason, just as Colorado accomplished in a 2-0 win at FC Dallas Stadium on May 6, which also happens to be the Rapids’ last road win in MLS play (five straight regular-season road losses).

“I feel like we’ve been in that playoff mode for a while, but we just weren’t getting that three points,” goalkeeper Matt Pickens told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday. “Now that we got it, hopefully we keep it rolling. We’ve got to treat every game like we need these points in order to get in the playoffs.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.