Rapids mistake-filled defensive style: Breaking down the mishaps

I've written about how great the Rapids defense has been this season and why it is really the only reason that the Rapids have their 6-4-5 record rather than being down in the Western conferences basement. Looking back at the past few games though, a disturbing trend occurred to me. Starting at the New York game on the 4th in that torrential downpour, the other team has been scoring a goal a game. The trend I've noticed is not just that the number of goals against has been consistant, but the fact that for some reason the defense seems to choose one point every game to completely derp out.

For the layman, I'm saying that the defense commits one god-awful mistake every game that inevitably leads to a goal for them. New York, Toronto and even Kansas City didn't have that problem, so what's up with the Rapids defense and boneheaded errors recently? Taking a closer look at the errors, they don't have much in common. It just seems that the entire defense loses each other for a split second every so often in random ways.

New York v Colorado, 7/4/10:
The Play: Juan Pablo Angel, NY's incredibly dangerous forward and DP, is set in front of the net on a corner kick late in the first half. The ball comes in well from the corner and lands right on the foot of Angel. Also, nobody is actually marking Angel. He has a good 3-5 seconds of holding onto the ball - probably thinking "Holy $#&*, am I really this open?!" - before striking the easiest goal of his career into the back of the net from only a couple of yards out.

The Mistake: Nobody was marking Angel. NOBODY. He is the most dangerous striker on the Red Bulls roster and somehow none of the several men in the box thought to cover him before the corner was taken. Mistake part two occured when he got the ball. Matt Pickens could have charged him, but didn't. Every single member of the defense froze, possibly assuming that he would charge Angel. So no communication and bad set piece team defense led to a stupidly easy goal for NY.

Colorado vs Toronto, 7/10/10
The Play: Early in the second half, Toronto is driving toward the net. Chad Barrett winds up unmarked at the side of the net, punting an easy cross to Fuad Ibrahim, also wide open inside the box. Matt Pickens can only look on as Ibrahim sticks the easiest goal of his career into the Colorado net, the deciding goal of the game.

The Mistake: First of all, a turnover in front of the box by Wells Thompson literally right onto the foot of Barrett started the carnage off. Barrett is unmarked and even unchallenged by anyone until he has already gotten the ball off his foot. Standing between Drew Moor and Danny Earls is Ibrahim, who not only gets the ball with no trouble, but basically steps between them as they both seem a second late on their reaction time, neither one coming close to touching the ball. Again, bad plays at the back and no communication in the box lead to an easy goal.

Kansas City v Colorado, 7/17/10
The Play: Davy Arnaud sneaks through the entire Rapids defense, getting a breakaway and easily beating Matt Pickens on the one on one play.

The Mistake: The entire Rapids defense decided to set up an offside trap on the play in case Arnaud or another attacker decided to try and break through. Unfortunately they all - especially Scott Palguta - were about 3 steps too far up the field and nobody appeared to see Arnaud running through as the ball was hit. There were zero people anywhere near him as he sped through the line as a result, which made the offside trap incredibly easy to exploit for KC, and exploit they did. Pickens appeared shocked that he made it through so easily and as a result charged way too late, the ball was already halfway to the goal by the time he reached Arnaud's feet.

Don't get me wrong, the offense is most certainly to blame for the current lack of fire in the Rapids play. You have to wonder though, if just one man is in position to make the play on any of those bad mishaps, do the Rapids still lose or draw all three of those games? Is it just luck? Are the defenders just not playing with their heads in the game 100% of the time? Do the coaches not cover defensive positioning or something as much as they should be?

Worth a thought.

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