The Colorado Rapids’ resilience has been on full display for the last couple of months and coach Robin Fraser hopes the team has a few more weeks of fight in reserve.
Thanks to consecutive road wins, the Rapids secured the five seed in the Western Conference for the MLS Cup playoffs. To extend their stop-and-start season another week, the Rapids will need to win a third straight road game Sunday at fourth-seeded Minnesota United.
Minnesota's 2-1 win behind a late Lalas Abubakar own goal on Oct. 28 at Allianz Field prevented a four-game unbeaten streak headed into the playoff. The previous matchup in Minnesota was the team’s second game back after a month-long hiatus as the Rapids had five games eventually canceled by the coronavirus.
“I think that was the toughest thing because we had two or three games where we did the whole match set up. We had the lineup, we went through set pieces, and then the game ended up being canceled the day of,” promising midfielder Cole Bassett said Thursday. “That was hard for us as players mentally, because we didn’t really know if we were ever going to get to play again this season and we didn’t know if the league was going to make us forfeit games and stuff like that.”
MLS opted to award playoff positions on points per game instead of total points, which allowed teams to finish the regular season with an uneven amount of games played. The Rapids’ late road wins gave them five wins away from Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, tied for most in the league, and 28 points, which still would have been good for the final playoff spot.
“I think it speaks a lot about the resilience of the group,” coach Robin Fraser said. “They love to play and they like to play together. Every opportunity to play is a chance to continue to work at things, and I think when you’re a humble team, you don't really make a lot of excuses.
"I feel like our guys don’t make a lot of excuses. So every time they go out to play, it’s really trying to work on the objectives that make them individually good and make us collectively good as a team.”
The most common phrase around the Rapids over the last couple of months, Fraser said, was something along the lines of "(We) just have to get on with it."
“At the end of the day, I think that mentality has served us well and will continue to serve us well,” Fraser said.
That mentality might help if the snow that’s forecast for the Twin Cities falls Sunday, possibly complicating Colorado’s day-of travel plans. Either way, the Rapids plan on showing Minnesota their fight.
“We don’t really care that we’re on the road, to be honest. It doesn’t really matter to us. We enjoy going up there. We just try to do the same things that we do at home,” said Bassett, the Rapids’ most productive player throughout his five-goal, five-assist season, ahead of his first playoff game.
“We don’t want to be a team that goes up there and plays safe and maybe sits in a bit more just because we’re away. We try to take the game to them. … That’s when we’re at our best. Hopefully we can try to replicate that this weekend and keep the road streak alive.”