Sunday's 3-0 hiccup against Vancouver notwithstanding, count the Rapids as a dark horse to win MLS Cup.
Like the Rapids, the Sounders' season did not get off to a great start and they struggled through the opening two months before finding their way. Buoyed by the signing of U.S. superstar Clint Dempsey in August, the Sounders used a run of eight wins in nine games to shoot to the top of the league before fading down the stretch.
Following a 2-0 win over Real Salt Lake on Sept. 13, Seattle closed its regular season on an unprecedented seven-match winless streak, including the franchise's first-ever four-match losing streak.
Sigi Schmid's team certainly has the quality to move on from such a poor run, but the Sounders will need to execute their game plan perfectly to advance.
With Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, Lamar Neagle and Nigerian international Obfemi Martins up front, Seattle has a slight edge over Colorado's Gabriel Torres, Vicente Sanchez and Brown.
The Sounders also have a marginal edge in midfield with the presence of Osvaldo Alonso and a healthy Mauro Rosales. Those two have the ability to keep the ball in the middle of the park and control the game.
At the back, Colorado has the edge as Marvell Wynne, Chris Klute, U.S. Under-20 international Shane O'Neill and Drew Moor have been outstanding all season, while Seattle's backline has been suspect over the final month of the campaign.
The Rapids also have the edge in goal as Irwin has been a revelation since taking over for Pickens, producing 10 clean sheets in 31 starts, while Michael Gspurning was benched after allowing nine goals in 5-1 and 4-1 losses to Colorado and Vancouver in September.
Both teams are coming off disappointing results in the final regular season game of the season on Sunday, but Colorado has been in much better form over the last month.
Still, Seattle is capable of spectacular things in front of its home fans, and the Sounders should be able to put their regular season woes behind them.
COLORADO 1, SEATTLE 1 (SEATTLE WINS IN PENALTY SHOOTOUT 4-3)
Whatever happens on Wednesday and Thursday, both contests are sure to be great matches. Look for our conference semifinal, conference final and MLS Cup final predictions later in the postseason.