By Jess Houwen // @jesshuh15
I know it has been a while since I have written. Life has an interesting way of throwing curves and inconveniently getting in the way of what you want to do. Regardless, I am here now.
Thursday should be an interesting day, right? Day drinking, turkey dinner, deciding if you’ll get up early enough to catch any of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, being with family, listing out what we’re thankful for in social media posts while grousing about [whatever] – you know, usual Thanksgiving Day things. Only, it’ll be a little different this year, won’t it?
The Rapids will be hosting the Portland Timbers for the first ever Thanksgiving Day MLS playoff game. Kickoff is at the same time as the traditional Dallas Cowboys match (2:30 PM MST), but you’ll find me screaming my head off a couple rows above my usual seats at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. You see, Mom is joining us this game and our row didn’t have enough seating for her this time around. I’m excited that the three of us get to take a game in together for the first time since we signed up for season tickets in 2016. (We’ve all gone to multiple games since, just not at the same time.)
To be honest with you, I’m really nervous about the match. This season we’ve tied Portland at their home, and beaten them at our home. It would be easy to say that the odds are in our favor because of those results but Portland is historically a formidable playoff team. They seem to shift into a different gear the minute regular season ends. Props to Gio Savarese and the coaching staff for building that into their tactics and to the players for executing those tactics so well.
This Rapids team though. Whew! These guys have been non-stop this season. I know there are a lot of MLS fans out there that say that we lucked into first place in the West. And, sure, in some ways we did. Without the other results happening the way they did on Decision Day, we wouldn’t be in first. However, saying that also negates the amount of work put in to even get close enough to luck into first in the first place.
When Connor Casey took over the team after the Rapids (rightly!) ended the Anthony Hudson Era, he had a mess on his hands. (And somehow Hudson has made it to the Senior NT coaching staff? Really?) Casey had a good bit cleaned up by the time Robin Fraser stepped in. Look at our Burgundy Boys though. Look at the changes this team has made. Look at the depth of our bench! We finally look like that perennial playoff team that we’ve been hearing about from Padraig Smith for so long. The Rapids Way, you know?
There’s no way we come out of Thursday’s game without any cards. Portland is physical, to the point of violence sometimes. We know this game will easily be a heated match. We’ve had three weeks between games while Portland has had three days and travel. Whether or not that plays in our favor, who knows. Hang on, I’m having awful flashbacks of the Rockies 2007 World Series run where the steam seemed to run out between the National League Championship Series and the World Series itself. But we’re not the Rockies, we didn’t luck into the playoffs thanks to a questionable call by a
n umpire referee. (I’m not sure he touched the plate.) We’ve been a lock for the playoffs since…well, since we beat Portland in October.
Listen, Thursday is going to be exciting. I hope to see you there. (The Rapids are donating meals to the Food Bank of the Rockies, so if the excitement of playoff soccer isn’t enough to entice you attend, there’s that too. At the time of writing, the Rapids were up 30 meals donated per person attending.) Hopefully the next article is about which opponent we’d rather face: SKC, or Real Salt Lake.
Oh! And please don’t forget to pass the cranberry sauce, it’s my favorite.
You can watch the Colorado Rapids take on the Portland Timbers at 4:30 PM EST/2:30 PM MST on Fox and Fox Deportes.
Featured image: Dan Reinberger // Reinberger Photo
Follow and chat with me on Twitter // @jesshuh15