COMMERCE CITY — Head coach Robin Fraser knows his team has officially been eliminated from the playoffs. He still has high expectations for the final two games of the 2022 campaign.
Fraser and the Colorado Rapids (10-9-13, 39 points) are looking to close out the team’s home schedule with three points and a proper home send-off for a Rapids legend against playoff-bound FC Dallas. Kickoff will be at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at DSGP and the game is set to air on national TV on Univision’s TUDN and on Twitter.
Colorado was eliminated from MLS playoff contention as a result of LA Galaxy taking down Golden State rival San Jose last Saturday, as the Rapids had to win out and get results elsewhere to have any shot at the postseason.
“These last two games are a character test and guys have to be up for it to show that they wanna be here and really, be out to prove that we’re better than where we’ve ended up.” Fraser said.
“No, (nothing’s different) just work-rate, execution, commitment — all of the same things that we’d be seeing if we were playing for a playoff game,” Fraser continued. “Why? Because we’re professionals and that’s what we do. We support each other, we don’t let each other down, so it’s really important that guys come out and give a proper team effort and show the kind of desire that is really the hallmark of this team when this team plays well.”
Few players have exemplified those traits quite like Drew Moor, who, earlier on Friday, announced he will retire at the end of the season. The 38-year-old veteran has played over 200 times for the Burgundy Boys and could get one last cameo appearance in front of fans at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
While it’s a team game, also at stake are individual accolades and club records.
Diego Rubio, already on a career-high 14 goals for the year, is two goals shy of tying the club single-season mark of 16 set by Connor Casey in 2009. Rubio can also set a new club record for goal contributions in a season (21), set in 2001 and 2002, respectively. If Gyasi Zardes can add one more goal to his name, he’ll reach 10 as a member of the Burgundy Boys since he joined earlier this season.
While Fraser will likely still bring out a relatively experienced starting lineup, fans could see young players make their way onto the pitch. Players such as Ralph Priso, Anthony Markanich, Gustavo Vallecilla, Max Alves could possibly feature as substitutes or even starters.
Darren Yapi is one of those players and is hopeful to earn key minutes Saturday. He has been training with forwards Gyasi Zardes and Rubio and is always eager to learn more from a pair of experienced strikers.
“…When you’re young the only thing you can do is watch and play and try to learn from them as much as I can. I’ve been trying to pick all their brains out as much as I can,” Yapi said. “Diego, I just wanna see how he finishes. Gyasi has been helping me a lot too.”
While FC Dallas, currently sitting in third in the West and looking to earn a home playoff spot, has a few dangerous attacking players, including U.S. Men’s National Team striker Jesús Ferreira (18 goals), Colorado still wants to give a good account of itself in every facet of the game.
No matter the circumstances, it’s why Fraser is eager to see how players approach Saturday’s home finale.
“There’s still games to play and as I said, there’s always something to play for,” Fraser said. “If you don’t realize that then your career ends up being pretty short. But every time you play, you end up being watched and evaluated and you create opportunities in your own team, or opportunities elsewhere. Hopefully that’s something they understand and treat these last two games the right way.”