The Rapids shouldn't have needed to get three points or even one point in Torreon last night against Santos Laguna. Considering the way they pounded the drive for three points in every home game into the fans' heads before the CONCACAF Champions League began, the 3-1 win over Metapan should have given the Rapids the points they needed to safely breeze through Group B into the knockout rounds of 2012. Unfortunately, only three out of nine points at home - and the three they earned being far too close for comfort - left the Rapids with an almost must-win game against Santos and the pressure was too much as the Rapids fell 2-0 to the superior Mexican side.
Much was made before the match about how the Rapids were bringing their strongest side so far into a CCL match, with guys like Jeff Larentowicz and Drew Moor getting the starts, though they still missed Pablo Mastroeni as he was still sitting in Denver with a concussion. You would never have known this was the strongest Rapids side possible watching the match though, as the starting line-up frustratingly included Scott Palguta once again and head-scratching moves like Kosuke Kimura playing right midfielder and an obviously picked on a dartboard forward selection of Macoumba Kandji and Caleb Folan.
Santos were not fielding their strongest side either as their passing to the next round was already assured when the Rapids lost to them earlier in the group stage, but their quality was evident from the start. The scoreline was 0-0 when halftime hit and the Rapids certainly weren't without their chances but the Rapids were very clearly lacking any chemistry between the mish-mash gang of players that were playing together. Passes went awry, balls were stolen often away from the feet of the midfield and the best chance of the match off Caleb Folan was sent 10 yards high and wide as he seemed to be shocked that he was actually open for once with the ball on his foot.
The second half started with a whimper as they barely could touch possession until the 55th minute, when Aaron Galindo took a beautiful volley that Steward Ceus had no chance on from the very center of the box for the first goal of the game. With the momentum clearly on the feet of the green and white, Jesus Escoboza continued to keep the Rapids at bay with another goal only 12 minutes later. Omar Cummings came on for a knocked up Kandji and was fairly useless, and Sanna Nyassi's trip off the bench didn't end much better despite a couple of decently taken free kick chances. Nobody wound up finding anything resembling a finishing touch though and three goals away from a win there was never really a possibility of a game-changing comeback.
To add insult to injury, the match ended with a small brawl between Folan and a couple of Santos players near the Santos goal. The match was already in hand and a very clearly frustrated Folan finally did what every Rapids fan had been waiting to see - something entertaining. Perhaps had the Rapids at least made it a game, there wouldn't be quite as much doom and gloom; it's not looking likely for a move to the quarterfinals in CCL for the burgundy and blue boys though.
At this point, the Rapids destiny is out of their own hands and in the hands of Real Espana and Metapan. Colorado will be rooting for a very unlikely and weird result in it in order to advance, as the only scenario left that will lead to an advancement is a draw between the two. Color us skeptical that we'll luck into it, because the Rapids certainly haven't earned a spot in their with their lackluster lineups in the biggest games of the tournament. Either way, root for some 0-0 action if you want a prayer of a chance to see the Rapids play meaningful football pre-MLS season in 2012.