After every game this season, I think I have the Rapids figured out. I try to look for trends and signs, and then analyze them meticulously and come up with what must be the answer Pablo & Co. come up with too. Now, five games into the season, I am giving up. When I think I know exactly what the Rapids will do next they totally surprise me, like pulling 3 points out of a road game they looked sure to lose one week, only to do it AGAIN the very next week. Or fight back to go up on the defending champs only to blow two goals late in the game.
With that said, I will leave you with what I believe to be the three most pressing issues the Rapids must deal with going into their match with San Jose this week. Just don't ask for my answers...
Are diamonds really forever?
The new diamond 4-4-2 has been received with mixed emotions. Some welcome it, others don't want to see it again. Hate it or love it, will the Rapids' new gem work with Vicente Sanchez in the line-up? You could put him at the top, but Powers is simply too good centrally to have him play further back and wide like he did against Vancouver (and his return to the central attacking midfielder roll paid dividends against Toronto). Sanchez has thrived out on the right wing this season, generating the creative spark that Colorado has sorely missed in their previous two matches without him. The 4-2-3-1 also gives Pablo & Co. more leeway in their attacking options, as Eloundou, Serna, and Chavez all play wider than a diamond 4-4-2 would allow them. Also, for all the talk of wanting to be an offense-driven team, starting four central midfielders doesn't exactly scream, "ATTACK!"
Who is going to be the consistent goalscorer?
The Rapids have a paltry 3 goals (Deshorn's penalty technically counts as one too! - Ed) from the run of play this season, and two of those were wonder strikes from a defensive midfielder. Thus, the question still remains: who is the Rapids go-to goal scorer? Deshorn Brown has had a rather slow start to the season, Gaby Torres has hardly seen the field/ball enough to score consistently, and I am not yet convinced Edson Buddle has another 10+ goal season left in him. So, where are the goals going to come from? Dillon? Dillon 2.0? Marvell Wynne? (Kidding.) Sanchez and Powers can create all day, but someone has to put the ball in the back of the net. Besides, the PK and Golazo banks look to be drying up quick.
Is Nick LaBrocca the weak link in midfield?
It's no secret that LaBrocca's last few outings haven't exactly been his best. In fact, other than the opening game at New York he's looked pretty lost. Powers is the playmaker and about a million other things. Jose Mari is the holding mid, breaking up plays and providing an outlet. Last year (because he hasn't looked like it this year), Sturgis was the box-to-box that would make late, open runs and grabbed 4 goals in the process. What does that leave for LaBrocca? He's wasted his few chances in front of goal and he's not particularly tidy in possession. What is he? And if he is the weak link, who's stronger?
Fans will be hard-pressed to be disappointed with 10 points through the Rapids' first five games, especially given the difficulty of the schedule, but we have yet to see the Rapids click offensively like they did last year. Perhaps more importantly though is what we have seen, which is what head coach Pablo Mastroeni touched on post-game in Toronto: character. Could this be the week character and proliferation meet?