The Colorado Rapids had a chance to clinch a playoff berth for the first time since 2016 on Sunday night. The Burgundy Boys smacked reigning MLS champions Seattle FC 3-1, but results around the league didn’t end with a clinching celebration in Commerce City.
There are two games remaining before this Sunday’s Decision Day, and Colorado can clinch a postseason spot with a win or two draws. The Rapids can also reach the postseason with help if they do not get those two points themselves.
Here are three takeaways from one of the biggest Rapids wins of the season:
Not only were the Sounders the MLS Cup winners of last season, they have also appeared in the championship match in three of the last four seasons.
They are once again among the league’s best, but Sunday’s result ended their hopes of a possible Supporters Shield, awarded to the team with the best regular-season record.
“You’re looking at a team whose record of getting to MLS Cup finals has been ridiculous over the last couple of years,” Rapids coach Robin Fraser said. “We’re proud that we’ve beaten a very good team. I feel like a lot of guys played really well.”
The Rapids did not control possession but were ahead for most of the contest. Colorado generated more shots and had better chances than the Sounders. Throughout the game, the Rapids looked comfortable and back to form after a month-long layoff due to a team-wide COVID-19 outbreak.
Sammy the stud
Sam Vines has played every minute of the 2020 season thus far for the Rapids. The homegrown fullback chipped a beautiful ball into the box for Andre Shinyashiki, who opened the scoring.
“Andre, me and Sammy have the same agent and we’re in a group chat always talking about what we need to do to get better,” Cole Bassett said. “One of the things that Vines has been trying to work on this year is his end product, his crossing and his ability to finish plays off because he gets into so many good positions with how fast he is and how good he is on the ball. He delivered a great ball to Andre tonight.”
Vines’ defense has consistently improved since becoming a full-time starter a few games into the 2019 season. He had the tough assignment of slowing down the Sounders attack Sunday and did so admirably
“Sam is a player who is certainly improving rapidly,” Fraser said. “He obviously has great physical characteristics, good speed, good quickness, a clean touch. But the big maturation point for him needed to be his collective defending within the team and he’s improved at that and he’s continued to improve at that… I don’t think he’s really even close to his ceiling yet.”
While all eyes have been on the local teen Bassett, who now leads the team in goals after netting his fifth of 2020 in the 75th minute, fellow Colorado native Vines has been rock solid.
“I love when all these young players are doing well because I think we really bring energy to the team,” Bassett said.
The Rapids are on the road at Portland on Wednesday and in Houston on Sunday. The Timbers lead the Western Conference and are playing for seeding, while the Dynamo are at the bottom of the conference and have been eliminated.
Colorado could still host a playoff game if it can earn wins in both matches and get some help. A good but not best-case scenario for the Rapids would be avoiding the conference’s top three teams: Portland, Seattle and Kansas City.