Real Salt Lake 2 Colorado Rapids 1 - Stable Lineup, Of Course, Is In Air Quotes

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

There were more far-too-cheeky lineup changes at the heart of a Colorado loss once again, though an awful penalty call by Mark Geiger didn't help matters for the Rapids.

Pablo Mastroeni couldn't be blamed for Nathan Sturgis being forced in after Jose Mari was diagnosed with flu-like symptoms, but he had a few other cutesy roster moves that kept the narrative a-rollin' from last game. Remember back in 2012 when Oscar Pareja tried to out-clever himself by playing Drew Moor as a midfielder? The Rapids ended up with a weaker backline and a weaker midfield from the move, and lost that game to Real Salt Lake 2-0. This time around, Dillon Powers was inserted as a forward (!?), while once again the shuffle confusingly continued in the back as Marvell Wynne and Marc Burch were inserted against the second most potent offense in MLS. That (stop me if you've heard this one) left both the midfield and the backline weakened, and the Rapids lost the game to RSL 2-1. Well, better than 2-0, at any rate.

Trying very, very hard to get offense inserted anywhere possible, Pablo's move to bring in Dillon Powers instead kept him from being able to make his usual cutting passes from deep in the midfield. Slowly, Powers went from a deep-lying forward to a midfielder again, but seemed tentative to go backwards at the same time. With no Jose Mari, there was little collaboration in the midfield, and the Rapids spent the majority of the first half with a passing average hovering around 65%.

RSL got the first goal of the match after holding approximately a metric assload of the possession, with Joao Plata exposing an old flaw of the Rapids defense under Oscar Pareja, that being their difficulty at dealing with passes across them right in front of the eighteen yard box. Chris Klute was caught an inch out of position on the open ball to Plata, and his tackle was that same inch too late to stop the shot. Clint Irwin was also caught out of position on the play, which didn't help matters.

Colorado started to get into the game a bit more as the half wore down, but only Deshorn Brown looked dangerous  from open play. A few set piece opportunities came and went, with Edson Buddle's header slamming the post being the closest to a goal the Rapids got on the evening.

An absolutely awful penalty call by Mark Geiger gave Real Salt Lake a quick 2-0 lead at the start of the second half -- come on, it wouldn't be a game at Rio Tinto without RSL getting an illegal play called a goal -- and in the end it did end up mattering as the Rapids were able to snag a goal off a set piece from Drew Moor. The Rapids might not have deserved a tie thanks to their ugly first 70 minutes of play, but it would have been a good result in the end. The Rapids didn't find that second goal they needed, though they controlled everything during the final 10 minutes of play, including five minutes of stoppage.

It was business as usual from the Rapids, and that remains the problem.

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