The Colorado Rapids are a soccer club based in Commerce City, Colorado (a suburb of Denver) that participates in Major League Soccer. The club was founded in 1995. The team colors are burgundy and sky blue with the home jerseys being burgundy. The away jerseys are sky blue with burgundy trim. They played their home matches at Mile High Stadium from 1996–2001 and moved into INVESCO Field at Mile High in 2002. They moved to Dick's Sporting Goods Park in the Denver suburb of Commerce City for the 2007 season. The Rapids have made two cup finals in their history, the 1997 MLS Cup and the 1999 US Open Cup, losing both times.
The complexion of the team changed dramatically for the following season with new head coach Glenn Myernick and a new General Manager, Dan Counce. Myernick and Counce brought new faces to the squad including Paul Bravo, Wolde Harris, Ross Paule, and keeper Marcus Hahnemann. The team struggled early on, but rallied to grab a postseason spot. The Rapids pulled off two major upsets and advanced to the 1997 MLS Cup final. Chris Henderson scored a mid-air volley past Dallas keeper Mark Dodd in the 87th minute in the Western Conference final, ensuring Colorado's place in the MLS Cup final. They scored in the Cup thanks to a goal by Adrian Paz but lost the final 2-1 to DC United.
Colorado continued on a roller coaster of success and disappointment: Myernick brought in more new players including Anders Limpar and Marcus Hahnemann and the club made it to the 1999 US Open Cup final, only to be upset 2–0 by the Rochester Raging Rhinos.
The 2000 season boasted two of the more memorable moments in Rapids history. The first was Marcelo Balboa's famous bicycle kick which garnered the Goal of the Year. The second was clenching a playoff spot in the final game of the season against the Los Angeles Galaxy, with Paul Bravo scoring in the 97th minute.
In 2001 Tim Hankinson took the reins as Colorado's new head coach. Scottish striker John Spencer also joined the club that year. While Hankinson did bring effective players like Mark Chung, Chris Henderson, Carlos Valderrama, and Joe Cannon to the squad--and made the playoffs every year--Hankinson also signed a number of expensive and unsuccessful players including ZiZi Roberts and Darryl Powell. During his coaching stint, the club also traded away club legend Marcelo Balboa, whose career was nearing its end....he played 1 game with New York before retiring.
2002 was a banner year for the Rapids, and they started off their new year at their new home of Invesco Field at Mile High by acquiring two powerhouses and future stars for the team, Pablo Mastroeni and Kyle Beckerman from the defunct Fusion FC. Chris Henderson went down in history as the first player ever to score a goal in the brand-new stadium. Mark Chung posted record numbers on the season, and Mastroeni shone for the US Men's National Team in that year's World Cup. The club advanced to the MLS Playoffs Semifinals, and although they didn't advance to the MLS Cup, the Rapids did clean up at the MLS postseason awards ceremonies. General Manager Dan Counce was named MLS Executive of the Year and 4 other Rapids front office staff were named as the best at their positions in MLS that year. Mark Chung was named to the League Best XI squad and also took home the MLS Fair Play Award. Finally, the Rapids ticket sales staff was named best in the league after the Rapids led MLS in average home attendance for the first time ever with an average home crowd of over 20,000 fans per home game.
2003 saw the club change their identity, with a rebranding that brought in the new team identity and color scheme of black and blue. Mark Chung and forward John Spencer had banner years. Spencer, the Rapids' team captain, set a new team record by scoring in six consecutive games and tied his own team record with 14 goals on the season. He finished the season third in MLS with 33 points, was a finalist for Honda MVP and was named to the MLS Pepsi Best XI. Joining him on the Best XI was Chung, who tied his career high of a year prior with 11 goals and was second on the team with 28 points. This was Chung’s second consecutive appearance on the MLS Best XI and it marked the first time in league history that two Rapids had been so honored in the same season.
The Rapids set a new MLS record for the lowest home Goals Against Average over an entire season with at 0.53 by only allowing eight goals in 15 matches at Invesco Field during the season, and never more than one in a single game. After Kansas City broke the Rapids’ MLS record 16 game home undefeated streak on June 9th, the Black & Blue reeled off 11 more undefeated home games. On the year Colorado was undefeated when scoring more than one goal, a credit to the play of goalkeeper Joe Cannon and the suffocating defense.
Kroenke Sports Enterprises purchased the club in late 2004 and made several changes before the 2005 season. In the front office, KSE replaced long-time executive GM Dan Counce with Charlie Wright, who appointed Fernando Clavijo as the new head coach.
Clavijo and Wright brought in many new additions to the squad including Jeff Cunningham, Terry Cooke, and David "Dedi" Ben Dayan. The team saw steady improvement over the course of the 2005 season. The season's success was highlighted by a dramatic playoff victory over FC Dallas in a penalty shootout, and their claiming of the brand new Rocky Mountain Cup in its inaugural year.
Colorado's 2006 season seemed to parallel trends from previous years. Clavijo's squad performed inconsistently and only secured a playoff spot at the very last instant. Lightning managed to strike twice as they duplicated their 2005 playoff run by again beating FC Dallas in penalties only to crash out of the Western Conference Final by a two goal deficit. Other highlights from the final black and blue season include securing the Rocky Mountain Cup for the second consecutive year and winning the MLS Reserve Division.
New head executive Jeff Plush had taken over the business responsibilities of the club when he was named Managing Director in January of 2006. One of his main initiatives was to re-invent the club with new colors that meshed with the DNA of other KSE clubs, in the form of burgundy and blue, leading the way towards constructing the world's largest and most state of the art professional soccer stadium and fields complex, Dick's Sporting Goods Park, formulating club-to-club relationships with Arsenal of the English Premier League and CF Pachuca of Mexico, and ushering in a new era of a new era of optimism.
The Rapids business-wise enjoyed a fantastic inaugural year at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, hosting numerous international exhibitions, tournaments on the stadium's 24-field complex, and the 2007 MLS All-Star Game; on the pitch though the team's performance was less than ideal.
The team started out strong with a series of good results, including a fantastic 2-1 victory over DC United in frigid conditions on MLS First Kick and the first-ever event in the newest soccer stadium in America. Herculez Gomez went down in history as the first-ever player to score in the Rapids' brand new shining jewel of a stadium. However as the season progressed, the team endured a long winless steak that saw them sink in the standings. Colorado struggled with inconsistent results at the end of the season and ultimately finished just shy of a playoff spot. The major low points in the season included an embarrassing 5-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, and a crushing defeat to Real Salt Lake that saw them lose both a playoff berth and the possession of the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time ever in the last game of the regular season. One of the club's few consolations of the season on the pitch was winning the MLS Reserve Division Championship for the second consecutive year.
Despite underachieving on the field the previous year and protests from the fans, the Rapids elected to honor Fernando Clavijo's contract, which runs though the 2008 season.
Heading into 2008, Rapids GM Charlie Wright and the front office staff bolstered the roster by adding depth to the midfield and defense. Major signings included Christian Gómez and Jose Burciaga Jr. The 2008 season to date has seen a resurgent Rapids side, which started off the season with a complete thrashing of David Beckham and the LA Galaxy by a 4-0 score on Opening Day to launch the season.
The Rapids' image has evolved a great deal since their inaugural year. The team has undergone two complete re-brandings.
Originally using green as the primary uniform color, the team changed to black and blue for the 2003 season.
As Colorado were preparing to move into Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the 2007 season, the club re-invented themselves again to more closely align with the DNA and color scheme of other KSE teams, changing their colors to burgundy and blue, and creating a brand new shield logo to fit in with more traditional global soccer marks.
For the 2007 re-branding, the Rapids created the new shield-style logo, which is the one that is currently used today.
The collaboration between the two clubs includes beneficial coaching and player development for Colorado, along with marketing and best business practices discussions, with the possibility of arranging friendlies between the teams. It also gives Arsenal media attention in the US market, which has already proven its brand-identity potential for other European clubs such as Manchester United and Real Madrid. It was also announced that the deal includes a US soccer tournament to be hosted in Denver, with teams competing for the Arsenal Cup.
Colorado Rapids owner Stan Kroenke recently purchased a share of Arsenal, reportedly 9.9% of the club for approximately $128 million. He has since increased his shares in the London club to 12.19%.
The establishment of the Pachuca Academy at Dick's Sporting Goods Park highlights the alliance, which also includes a home-and-home annual series between the clubs and an exchange of best practices. The Pachuca Academy will be the only one of its kind in the United States and will be administered in partnership with ProSport, a sports consultancy headquartered in Mexico City and led in part by former Mexican national team legend Enrique Borja. The Rapids and CF Pachuca also will conduct their respective preseason trainings at each other's home ground.
Overseen by Rapids Director of Player Development John Murphy, the Rapids Academy consists of an umbrella structure to develop youth players up through the club's ranks all the way to the first team. The Rapids' Youth Teams start at the age of U-11 and continue up to U-18, with each youth team wearing the same kit as the club's first team, and following the goal of identifying players to make the jump to the Rapids U-23's and then the Rapids' reserve team, and then the first team.
Also included in this system are the Rapids' U-16 and U-18 teams, which are members of the US Soccer Development Academy.
The Rapids Academy also runs specialized camps and clinics year-round for kids ages 5-18, all managed and run by the club's coaches and first-team players.
In 2005 and 2006, two organized groups emerged and are beginning to build from scratch. The Centennial Firm is the latest group trying to establish an ultras scene with flags, banners, and drums. Class VI was established in late 2005 to provide an alternative to the traditional standing environment. They are an organized body known as a seating club, focused on passion for the game, premium viewing location, and a focus on gameplay and is open to any fan (including both season ticket holders and single-game fans). After the close of the 2006 MLS season, the Rapids announced a new area (and official supporters' club) in Dick's Sporting Goods Park that would specifically house fans interested in an ultras experience. This section was called The Front Range.
Rapids matches appear on several channels including Altitude Television, which is owned by Kroenke Sports Entertainment as are the Colorado Avalanche and Denver Nuggets. Major League Soccer determined in 2007 that every game must be televised, either through a regional (or local) TV station, or a national channel.
Every single Rapids game is available to watch on television; via Altitude or else via nationally-available channels, including ESPN, ESPN-2, Fox Soccer Channel, Telefutura, and HDNet, or the MLS Direct Kick package.
This list of former players includes those who received international caps while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.
MLS regular season only, through 2007
|Year||Won||Loss||Tie||Points||Reg. Season||Playoffs||Open Cup||CONCACAF|
|1996||11||21||NA||29||5th, West||Did not qualify||Semifinals||Not qualifed||Started in 2007|
|1997||14||18||NA||38||4th, West||Final||Round of 16||Did not qualify|
|1998||16||16||NA||44||3rd, West||Quarterfinals||Did not enter||Qualifying Round|
|1999||20||12||NA||48||4th, West||Quarterfinals||Final||Did not qualify|
|2000||13||15||4||43||3rd, West||Quarterfinals||Round of 32||Did not qualify|
|2001||5||13||18||23||4th, West||Did not qualify||Round of 32||Not held|
|2002||13||11||4||43||4th, West||Semifinals||Quarterfinals||Did not qualify|
|2003||11||12||7||40||3rd, West||Quarterfinals||Quarterfinals||Did not qualify|
|2004||10||9||11||41||3rd, West||Quarterfinals||Round of 16||Did not qualify|
|2005||13||13||6||45||3rd, West||Semifinals||Round of 16||Did not qualify|
|2006||11||13||8||41||4th, West||Semifinals||Quarterfinals||Did not qualify|
|2007||9||13||8||35||4th, West||Did not qualify||Quarterfinals||Did not qualify||Did not participate|
|2008||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||TBD||Did not qualify||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
Note: MLS did not allow ties prior to the 2000 season as games were decided by shootout when tied at full time.
Rapids-sponsored international matches that the club has hosted and produced over the years have included such teams as:
-Chivas of Guadalajara (MEX)
-Mexico Men's National Team
-Colombia Men's National Team
-Derby County (ENG)
-Boca Juniors (ARG)
-Club America (MEX)
-San Luis (MEX)
-US Men's National Team
-US Women's National Team
-Glasgow Celtic (SCO)
-China Men's National Team
-Cruz Azul (MEX)
-Brazil Women's National Team
-CF Pachuca (MEX)
-Guatemala Men's National Team
-Washington Freedom (WUSA)
-San Jose CyberRays (WUSA)
-UANL Tigres (MEX)
-Everton FC (ENG)
Homecoming kings of 2011 arrive hopeful; Justin Morneau and Joe Nathan have special reasons to savor this particular home opener.(SPORTS)
Apr 08, 2011; Byline: JIM SOUHAN; STAFF WRITER NEW YORK - They traveled to Fort Myers in February, stopped in Atlanta at the end of spring...