Colorado Rapids

The Colorado Rapids are one of the original clubs in MLS, and have spent most of their existence as a yo-yo team, swinging back and forth from pretty good to mediocre to just dire. They have an MLS Cup in their trophy cabinet, but the past two years under former captain Pablo Mastroeni have been awful, with the team finishing at or near the bottom of the Western Conference and well out of the playoff chase, all while playing a bland style of soccer.

There are intriguing players on this team, including Americans Dillon Powers and Dillon Serna, and U.S. international Tim Howard is reportedly close to a move to the club. But unfortunately, in the past year or so the Rapids have become the league shorthand for "badly run team and organization." On the bright side, it doesn't take long to right the ship in MLS if smart moves are made, something Rapids supporters will be banking on heavily heading into the 2016 season.

2015 Record 9-15-10, 10th place in the Western Conference

2015 Playoffs Did Not Qualify

Key additions Marco Pappa, Shkelzen Gashi, Eric Miller, Zach Pfeffer, Mekeil Williams

Key losses Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Vicente Sanchez

Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1) Zac MacMath; Mekeil Williams, Sean St. Ledger, Axel Sjoberg, Eric Miller; Sam Cronin, Dillon Powers; Shkelzen Gashi, Marco Pappa, Dillon Serna; Kevin Doyle

Q&A with John Rosch, Burgundy Wave

Why should a new fan support this team?

Over the years, the Rapids' identity of being a hard working, blue collar team is something supporters take pride in, and one of the best feelings in sports is springing unexpected results -- such as Colorado's shock 2010 MLS Cup win. It's been pretty thin since then, so no one will accuse you of being a glory hunter, that's for sure.

Our season hinges on...

The growth of Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni. Entering his third season as coach, Mastroeni's tactical acumen, lineups and in-game adjustments continue to be questioned, perhaps more than any coach in MLS. In comparison, Mastroeni's predecessor Oscar Pareja had a rocky start before coming good in his second season and is now considered one of the best coaches around. Meanwhile, questions persist with Mastroeni, and coming into this season, his seat is getting pretty warm.

What we're scared of derailing our season

The first nine games. The Rapids have a brutal stretch to start, with four home games against likely contenders LA Galaxy, Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls and Seattle Sounders, and five road games where they are unlikely to be favorites. There are very few games in that stretch that can be considered "surefire wins" and there is the real possibility that they do not win a game until May. A slow start could mean Mastroeni is gone before summer, which leaves us starting all over again.

Game we're most looking forward to in 2016

An April match against an Eastern Conference foe may not seem like a big deal, but this one is a bit different. Toronto FC comes to town on April 2 with Rapids legends Drew Moor and Clint Irwin on their squad. It will be fans' first chance to say a proper goodbye. Moor is a former Rapids captain who always gave full effort on the field, and his departure this offseason as one of MLS' first free agents was difficult if understandable for Colorado fans. And Irwin, one of the most promising players on the team, was surprisingly traded away. Will that move pave the way for Tim Howard to eventually join the team? Time will tell, but at least fans will get a chance to see their old favorites when TFC comes to town.