Colorado has seen its once comfortable lead over the Portland Timbers slip to just a four point cushion, as Portland has won three of its last five to help close the gap.
Having lost three straight matches, all of which were on the road, Colorado has failed to keep pace with Real Salt Lake, Seattle Sounders FC, and FC Dallas. All three clubs, as well as the on-fire Los Angeles Galaxy, sit above the Rapids in the standings.
But with the next three matches coming at home for the Rapids, head coach Gary Smith is fully aware of the impact that the run-in will have on his team.
"We'll get back home now and we know we have to come out of our shell, get some points and boost our confidence," Smith said. "Right now, I have to say, though, that this is one of the most difficult periods we have been in since I have been here, not because we are especially poor, but you can start to lose sight of what it takes to win a game when you keep getting beat."
In its last outing, Colorado fell to Toronto FC 2-1 at BMO Field. A goal from Sanna Nyassi failed to spark a comeback for Colorado, as the Rapids could not overturn a Danny Koevermans brace.
San Jose was a bit more fortunate in its midweek clash at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland. After a first half goal from Kenny Cooper put the Timbers in front, Khari Stephenson notched an equalizer 20 minutes from time to salvage a point for his side.
"We showed great character to come back from that, nine minutes into the game against a team that's very dominant at home and come back into it and play some good stuff and get the reward that we deserve," said Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop.
The draw kept San Jose's playoff hopes alive for another week, but time is running out for the 'Quakes. Stephenson hopes that winning the upcoming games will help his club clinch a postseason berth.
"We've been playing well for the last 10 games and it's just unfortunate that we haven't won most of them," Stephenson said. "We are pushing for the playoffs and we are more than capable of winning the next few games."
These two teams met at Buck Shaw Stadium on August 13 with the Rapids topping the Earthquakes by a score of 2-1. Joey Gjertsen put San Jose in front in the 15th minute, heading home a rebound from close range. But Caleb Folan was able to equalize for Colorado in the 39th minute before Jeff Larentowicz eventually nabbed the winner 18 minutes from time.