We’re counting down the days until the Major League Soccer opener — Chicago at Los Angeles on March 6 — by marching backward through Matt Pentz’s projected league standings for upcoming season.
Today, we look at a Colorado Rapids side hoping to rebound from a disastrous finish to the 2014 season.
A refresher: On July 2, 2014, the Colorado Rapids were in second place in the Western Conference standings with 25 points from 16 matches. They were 10 points behind first-place Seattle, sure, but a nose ahead of the rest of the trailing pack.
Colorado would scrape together just seven more points the rest of the way.
The Rapids’ final MLS win came in late July, and only then at the expense of Chivas USA. Over its final 14 league games, Colorado lost 12 and drew two. It bellyflopped out of second place, down past the playoff positions and all the way into eighth place in the West, spared from the basement by only a San Jose team that closed almost as feebly.
The pessimists’ take: A strong finish provides an offseason’s worth of optimism, of “hey, if we can carry that over …” and “you saw how we looked in October.” A poor conclusion — and Colorado’s was about as poor a finish imaginable — inspires the opposite reaction.
For a team marooned out on the island that is Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City that draws mostly a collective shrug from Denver even in the best of times, an offseason of pessimism was the last thing it needed. Colorado finished third bottom in the league in average attendance at 15,082, higher than only Chivas (RIP) and San Jose, which moves into shiny new Avaya Stadium this spring.
The optimists’ take: Dillon Serna, despite being outside of the mainstream eye, is one of the most promising attacking prospects in MLS. And in adding Marcelo Sarvas — who was deemed expendable by L.A. after the Steven Gerrard deal despite a fantastic 2014 — and veteran Sam Cronin, Colorado has finally provided their young midfielder with some protection.
A solid spine can win you a lot of games in MLS, especially in the dog days of summer, and Colorado will also be provided the mid-season boost of hosting the league’s 2015 All-Star Game.
That still likely leaves the Rapids on the outside of the postseason picture in the loaded West, but once this team has some time to congeal, it could play a late-season spoiler.
Check back tomorrow, as the countdown continues with No. 15 New York City FC …