Rapids ready for first-ever MLS Thanksgiving match: “They pulled this off in ways I couldn’t even begin to hope for”

Colorado will host a prime Thanksgiving football match with big stakes and a national television audience.

No, not the Broncos.

Fresh off claiming an MLS Western Conference regular-season title, the Colorado Rapids are set to host Portland Timbers FC in the second round of the MLS Cup Playoffs after getting a first-round bye. The league’s first Thanksgiving Day match is one of the biggest in the club’s 26-year history and will be broadcast at 2:30 p.m. on FOX.

“We’re incredibly excited about the fact that we’re going to be in this on national TV,” Rapids general manager Pádraig Smith said. “One of the exciting things for us is to have the first-ever (MLS) game on Thanksgiving and to be able to do that in front of a packed house at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park with our supporters.

“It gives us an incredible advantage on the field and then, for some folks around the country, they’ll get the opportunity to see how good this team is and how they’ve developed and grown into a team that deserves the number one spot in the west.”

All of this seemed unlikely a few years ago and improbable just a few weeks ago.

Ending the season with victories in three of their final four matches, the Rapids took care of business through Decision Day and got a little help from Seattle (tie) and Kansas City (loss).

The 5-2 Colorado win over Los Angeles Football Club in the regular-season finale knocked LAFC out of the playoffs. Two years prior, LAFC used a last-day game to bump the Rapids from the postseason.

It all came full circle in 2021, striking a chord with the Rapids fan base.

“The Decision Day game was so special; I cried when they clinched the spot,” lifelong Rapids fan Jon Boraz said. “It’s one of the first times in club history we legitimately have a club of this caliber.”

Boraz lists that match as one of the five biggest games the Rapids have played, with the upcoming Turkey Day match already in his ranking as well.

Amid a three-year playoff drought in August 2017, Smith and Wayne Brant published an Op-Ed in The Denver Post detailing their mission for the club and how they wanted to build it.

As the team continued to fail on the field and fire personnel off it, the fanbase poked fun at the piece.

“There’s was a lot of mocking, a lot of eye-rolling when Pádraig and Wayne put that ‘Rapids Way’ Op-Ed in The Post,” Boraz said. “It was mocked for a decent amount of time beyond it too, but hats off to them. They pulled this off in ways I couldn’t even begin to hope for as a fan.”

The club’s first finish atop the Western Conference standings was authored by a roster of savvy international additions, strong intraleague moves and young homegrown talent.

“Our fans can expect to see what we talked about a few years ago (in the Op-Ed) — an exciting, attacking, entertaining team that plays with urgency, intensity and boldness,” Smith said. “We’ve …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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