The first bye week of the year gives a chance at reflection and an opportunity to assess the team after the first 14 games of the year. After a disastrous first month where the Rapids took one point out of a possible 12 and started 0-3-1, they responded nicely by going on a 5-1-4 clip which has them just sitting outside of a playoff position.
To the hardened supporter, 2013 looked like a year of promise, but there was always a worry as to how such a young and inexperienced team would gel. Many top name veterans were sent packing for younger, hungrier and cheaper talent. It was difficult to imagine a scenario where the Rapids would have come together this well, this early. And yet, here they are. Playoffs in reach and playing solid and entertaining football.
Cue up The Good, The Bad, The Ugly--bye week edition.
The Good: The young guys--when you get rid of so many veterans you are saying you are going to restock the shelf by going with younger guys. This Rapids team is clearly evident of that. From GK of the year candidate Clint Irwin to Deshorn Brown, Dillon Powers, Shane O’Neill, and Chris Klute--the Rapids have relied on young guys to fill holes from injury. And all of these guys have stepped up one way or another. It is a characteristic of this team that was not there last year and certainly was not here with the previous coach.
The Bad: Finishing--the Rapids have struggled most of the year with their finishing. Open nets have been missed, shots blown wide of the goal, and open men missed who had chances on net. It has been a struggle to see the team work so well defensively only to blow chances on net. More goals are going to need to come if this team wants to continue to challenge for a playoff spot.
The Ugly: Injuries--the Rapids could field a hell of an injured starting XI. Matt Pickens, Marvell Wynne, Pablo Mastroeni, Diego Calderon, Martin Rivero, Jaime Castrillon, Jamie Smith, Edson Buddle, Deshorn Brown, etc...have all missed portions of the season due to injury. This has been tough, but leads directly to the good of this article: the young guys. As guys are coming back from injury there continue to be major decisions to be made. Squad rotation is possible now and whereas in past year, when bench players were not used often, 2013 has seen most of the squad see time this year.
2013 so far has been a success for the Rapids. They have been in every game and you could argue that with fewer bonehead plays they certainly would have more points on the year. And the team has positioned itself for a legitimate shot at the playoffs. It would have been difficult to imagine that scenario in January and February.