Colorado Rapids star Kevin Doyle told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview that his side, which is counting down to a Western Conference playoff final against the Seattle Sounders later this month, has what it takes to win this year's MLS Cup.
The Republic of Ireland international suggested the Rapids slipped under the radar a bit this season, as they secured a second-place finish in the West before confirming their title credentials with a dramatic penalty shootout win against the star-studded LA Galaxy in the playoffs last Sunday.
Q. Do you feel you silenced a few doubters with the playoff win against LA Galaxy?
A: We have been at the top of the table all season, yet no one seems to have paid too much attention to us. We are not unduly worried about the lack of media covering our performances because it means we have been able to dip under the radar and get on with doing what we are good at. But people will start noticing us now that we have beaten LA Galaxy. I'm guessing that most "experts" were expecting us to lose on Sunday, but we knew we could get a result and proved it in the end.
Q. Why do you think the Rapids team does not get the publicity some of your rivals are attracting?
A: I honestly don't know. You look at the squad we have assembled and the organization at the club and it should not be a surprise that we are in the mix to win the MLS Cup. Tim Howard, Jermaine Jones and Shkelzen Gashi are top players and we have a structure to our team that makes us hard to beat. Maybe we are not a team that people have a huge focus on, but that's fine by us. Everyone will notice us if we win the big prize next month.
Q. What has changed to transform this Colorado team after a disappointing 2015 season?
A: Good recruitment of players, excellent organization on and off the field and a good direction from the owners. Everything we have seen was promised to me when I agreed to come to Colorado last year, and that isn't always the case. Clubs tend to sell you the story that they are on the brink of taking off when you have contract talks, but the people in charge at Rapids were very convincing and between us all, we have taken the club forward.
Q. Your penalty in the shootout against LA Galaxy looked like a nervous effort. Can you take us through your emotions?
A: I cannot remember the last time I was involved in a penalty shootout and you just cannot replicate the tension and pressure you feel in that situation. I practice penalties all the time and have taken plenty down the years, but that was a big moment. I have a routine, I decide what I'm going to do before I take the penalty and you just hope it works out. I gave the goalkeeper a chance with my effort on Sunday, but it sneaked under him and went in. It doesn't matter how it gets into the net, so long as it gets there.
Q. Did the atmosphere around the match feel different to a regular-season game?
A: Absolutely. I was told that American sports fans come to life in playoff games and that was certainly how it felt on Sunday. The atmosphere in both games was a step up from what we have seen all year and I can't wait for the Seattle game to come around now.
Q. What is the big difference you have noticed as a player in the MLS compared to operating in English football?
A: The traveling over here is on a different level. You have long gaps between matches, but you need that because the distance between the cities is so vast. It can be tiring, but it is also one of the aspects of playing in MLS that I have enjoyed. America is an incredible country with so many different ideas everywhere you go and it has been a privilege to see it all as part of a successful Colorado team.
Q. What are your thoughts on your next opponents, the Sounders?
A: They have run into form at their right time. Their coaching situation has been cleared up with Brian Schmetzer getting the job on a permanent basis and that will help them heading into this game, but we are feeling confident that we can beat anyone that is in front of us.