Colorado Rapids Road Schedule Could Decide Supporter’s Shield

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(Editorial) – The Colorado Rapids are second in the Supporter’s Shield standings with 41 points (11-3-8). They trail only FC Dallas, who have 44 points (13-6-5). The Rapids have at least a four point lead on every other team and games in hand on most. What then will it take for the club to maintain their standing and challenge Dallas for the Shield? The answer lies in the Colorado Rapids road schedule.

Colorado Rapids Road Schedule Could Decide Supporter’s Shield

The Rapids play five of their next seven (and four of their next five) games on the road. That includes a difficult three game road trip: August 26th at Real Salt Lake, September 3rd at New England Revolution, and September 10th at Dallas.

They have only two games left against a team truly out of the playoff picture: they play a home and away series with the Houston Dynamo in October.

While FC Dallas have two fewer league games to play (five at home, six on the road), they do have three CONCACAF Champions League group matches left. Two of those are on the road and will require long plane rides to Central America. Dallas also have a double game week this week thanks to a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match on Wednesday.

Dallas conclude the month of October with two games (one home and one away) against the LA Galaxy. That’s no small task, especially when you consider the schedule congestion they’ll have leading up to that.

The Rapids five road games in seven take them to the end of September. If they can get through that stretch and still be within striking distance of Dallas (three points or so), they should have the upper hand on winning the Shield.

The Rapids should get at least four points out of their two games against Houston. They also host San Jose Earthquakes on Thursday, October 13th, which should be a win. Colorado plays three of five games in October at home against the three worst road teams in the Western Conference.

Dallas will be struggling with schedule congestion at that point. A split series with LA or worse will give Colorado an big opening. This will be especially tough for head coach Oscar Pareja now that he is without star attacker Fabian Castillo, who recently went on loan to Turkey.

So, what do the Rapids need to do in this road trip so that come October they’re at least nipping at Dallas’s heels?

It starts this weekend at LA. That game needs to be a draw. The draw doesn’t matter so much for making up ground on Dallas. Because LA is only four points behind Colorado, this is a critical six pointer that Colorado can’t afford to lose.

Then comes Saturday August 20th against a struggling Orlando City SC. Even with Kaka, that should be a win for Colorado considering their record at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Then comes the three game road stint. I think they can get by with three draws or go 1-1-1 as long as that loss is not against Dallas. A draw at Salt Lake means they don’t give up any ground to RSL. While New England isn’t playing great, one has to think they’ll be motivated going up against former teammate Jermaine Jones.

The biggest game in this seven match stretch is at FC Dallas. A draw there would be a huge result. Remember, Colorado doesn’t need to catch up to Dallas by the end of September. They just need to keep pace with them. Get to October unscathed; then it’s advantage Rapids because of the October fixtures.

After the September 10th game at Dallas, it’s two very winnable games: home to San Jose then at Vancouver Whitecaps to close out the month. San Jose are tied for the second worst road record in the Western Conference at 0-5-6. Colorado thrashed Vancouver over the weekend in what head coach Pablo Mastroeni called the most professional 90 minute performance of the season.

Win the games at home. Get a draw on the road in at least two of the games against top conference opponents. Get a result at Dallas in September. Don’t go on a losing streak.

If the Rapids can do that, the Supporter’s Shield will be for the taking come October.