The 2020 season was unexpected, to say the least. Between the stops and starts, the MLS is Back Tournament, canceled games and oftentimes unconventional training styles – it felt like nothing went as planned.
But the team still found plenty of moments on the field that were well worth celebrating. From historic club milestones to rivalry wins and much more, this season became one we will never forget, for more than just its twists and turns.
Here are our five favorite moments on the field from the 2020 campaign.
1,000th Goal Milestone
This year marked the 25th MLS season, and what better way to celebrate that history than by hitting the 1,000-goal milestone as a club?
On July 22 against Minnesota United FC, 19 minutes in, Nicolas Benezet played a through ball to Kei Kamara, who slotted it home at the near post to open up scoring in the match. This historic moment on such a unique stage like the MLS is Back Tournament was a perfect encapsulation of this memorable year. The goal allowed the club to celebrate one of its greatest moments since becoming a team in 1996, and we look forward to the many, many more goals to come.
Fraser Makes Club History
Through his first 25 games, Fraser has led Colorado to 13 wins, 43 points and 47 goals – the most by any Rapids manager through his first 25 games since the introduction of draws to MLS in 2000. Fraser also became the first Rapids manager to lead his team to the playoffs in his first full season since Fernando Clavijo in 2005.
Reclaiming the Rocky Mountain Cup
Undoubtably one of the most memorable moments of 2020 was the 5-0 win over Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium that brought the Rocky Mountain Cup back to Colorado. Going into the second leg, the odds were stacked against the Rapids. The team had lost the first leg 4-1, meaning they needed to score at least four goals to have a chance to bring it home. This historic win marked not only the club’s first win at Rio Tinto Stadium, but it was also the worst-ever defeat suffered by RSL inside their home building. The win was the first of three in a stretch of four games, kickstarting Colorado’s push for the playoffs.
Youngest Lineup in MLS Leads to a Victory
In the final game of the regular season, the Rapids fielded the second-youngest starting XI in MLS over the course of the regular season, with an average age of 23.6 years old. This lineup worked in their favor as they earned the 2-1 victory over Houston.
Over the course of the season, the Rapids led the league with half the team’s goals coming from players aged 23 or younger at 50 percent (16 out of 32), just ahead of LAFC at 48.9 percent. This comes as little surprise – as Jonathan Lewis (23 years old) and Cole Bassett (19) were both instrumental to the team’s success this season and tied for the team lead in goals scored, both with five.
Pushing for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs
During this challenging year, the resiliency of this team shined during the last few weeks of the season. The Rapids came out firing in their final home match of 2020, defeating defending champion Seattle, 3-1, and putting themselves in the driver’s seat for a playoff push. Next up, on the road against one of the best teams in the Western Conference in Portland, Kellyn Acosta scored the lone goal of the game in the final minutes to secure a 1-0 victory and a spot in the playoffs. But the team didn’t stop there. In the last game of the regular season, the Rapids defeated Houston, 2-1, to earn a fifth seed in the playoffs on points per game. The win also meant Colorado would have secured a playoff spot on total points, despite playing at least three fewer games than every other team in the league.
While the first-round match against Minnesota didn’t go the way they hoped, the heart that the Rapids showed down the stretch and the strides they made through this playoff experience should prove impactful for years to come.