Ascending Rapids face Sounders on Fourth of July

The Colorado Rapids went more than two months without a victory, but suddenly the team that had the worst record in the league is on a roll as the summer starts to heat up.

After a 3-2 home win over Minnesota United on June 23, Colorado (4-9-3) went to Vancouver and beat the Whitecaps 1-0 on Sunday. The two victories doubled the season total and sent them into Wednesday’s home matchup with the Seattle Sounders hoping for a third straight win.

Considering the Sounders (3-9-3) have one win in their last seven games, the Rapids’ chances of extending their winning streak are strong against the team that kept them out of the MLS Cup final in 2016.

The game, played at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colo., could be the start of a big night for Rapids fans. The Fourth of July match will be topped with a fireworks show, and goalkeeper Tim Howard said he hopes to give the crowd a lot to cheer about after Sunday’s win.

“This was obviously a huge start for us. We’ve set ourselves a point target for the week … getting three points today we can be a bit more greedy as the week goes on,” Howard told the media after Sunday’s win. “We’ve got a big game at home, probably our biggest game of the season with the fireworks. Everyone in Denver looks forward to this game. It’s pretty special to us and hopefully we can give our fans something to cheer about.”

The Sounders are hoping to find something to celebrate after a 3-2 home loss to the Portland Timbers on Saturday. Seattle has gone 1-5-1 in its last seven games while falling to second to last in the Western Conference standings, three points behind Colorado.

It’s a long fall for both teams, who faced each other in the 2016 Western Conference finals. The Sounders won that two-game, total-goal series and advanced to the MLS Cup, beating Toronto FC on penalties to capture the title.

Neither team figures to be in the playoff mix this season, so playing on July 4 with fireworks to follow might be the highlight of the year for both squads.

The Sounders won’t be able to showcase forward Raul Ruidiaz. Seattle signed the Peruvian as a designated player after he played for Peru in the World Cup in Russia. He isn’t eligible to play for the team until July 15 after the transfer window opens July 10. Despite that, the excitement buzzing around his arrival has helped the Sounders.

“This club has always been a winning club,” head coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters after Ruidiaz was signed. “Having players who have it within themselves to be winners, to help their teams be successful, to have the type of character to do the little things that it takes to help their club be successful, those are all the attributes that we want to have in our big players.”