Matt Pickens has been solid in goal for the Colorado Rapids all season. His 1.10 goals-against average is good for sixth best in the league, and his seven shutouts are a respectable total.
One of those shutouts came against the Columbus Crew, the Rapids' opponents in the Eastern Conference semifinals. That was a 1-0 win at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
But in their other meeting this season, Pickens was beaten three times in a 3-1 loss at Crew Stadium. It was one of only two times all season that Pickens conceded three goals in a game.
The other time? Against the New York Red Bulls, the Eastern Conference winners and the Rapids' possible opponents in the next round. The Rapids lost 3-1 to the New York at Red Bull Arena.
HIGHLIGHTS: New York 3, Colorado 1
In other words, Pickens and the Rapids defense struggled both times they faced off against the best in the East on the road. For a team that is being picked by some as a dark-horse candidate to win MLS Cup, that's an inconvenient truth.
[inline_node:308892]Yet Pickens still feels confident about the Rapids' chances.
"I like our draw, I'll put it that way," he told The Denver Post this week.
Time will tell how much he ends up liking it. But there is this: Last year, the final team to earn a spot in the playoffs wound up lifting the trophy. The year before that, the last team in went to the final.
Colorado were the last team into the playoffs this year. So breathe out, Rapids fans.
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