The travel, and busy week, took its toll in Montreal
Seven days and three matches spread across the continent. It’s a schedule that simply doesn’t exist in other big leagues around the world. The longest possible flight in MLS to the west coast and the longest possible flight in MLS to the east coast with a big 4th of July home match in between? Had things gone EXACTLY to plan, it would’ve been a tough week. But with plane troubles on the return trip from Vancouver and the departure trip to Montreal, the odds were stacked against the Rapids following their physical, hard-fought win against Whitecaps FC to start the week.
Ever tried to jump on a plane after big workout? Or jump off a plane and try to perform at your peak? It’s not easy. Even a day or two later.
The Rapids looked a little flat in the first half against Seattle on Wednesday night. It wasn’t until the second half that they hit full stride and nearly came back to grab points. It took them even longer to get things going Saturday night in Montreal. They ended up losing both matches 2-1, but were not necessarily outplayed in either match.
Let me be the first to say, the Rapids did not lose to Seattle or in Montreal because of the travel, only that it should be considered when looking at the results. All MLS teams are subject to the same difficulties for road matches. Commercial flights on cramped planes. Long waits in security lines and at gates. It slants the playing field to the home side and does so in a much more dramatic fashion than in other sports. Travel is the elephant in the room for MLS and the schedule didn’t do the Rapids any favors this week.
The next two matches are loom large
The start of the second half of the season offers the Rapids no break and little room for error. But they have a chance to get things back on track in their next two matches.
They’ll face Western Conference foe Houston at home on July 14 and they’ll follow that up with a trip across the Rockies to face rival RSL. Grab four points from those two matches, and the Anthony Hudson and company will continue to make up ground in the Western Conference.
As noted above, it’s hard to win on the road in MLS, and the Rapids need to make it more difficult to play at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park. So far in 2018, fans of the burgundy and blue have seen ten home matches and just three wins. If the Rapids are serious about staying within shouting distance of the red line, they’ll need to collect as many points as possible from the remaining seven home matches. It starts Saturday against a Houston team that hasn’t won in Commerce City since October of 2008.