Some of the best defense that the Rapids have played all season came in the first half against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday. They were holding Darren Mattocks in check fairly well, Tyrone Marshall wasn't a detriment and the fullbacks had more chances than usual to get forward compared to other games this season.
In all honesty, it kind of looked like a defensive performance out of Gary Smith's Rapids team, and it came from the same part of the park -- the center of midfield. Hendry Thomas and Jeff Larentowicz put together a pair of performances that rivaled 2010's Mastroeni/Larentowicz pairing.
Nobody except for right back Drew Moor touched the ball during the game more than Jeff Larentowicz, and his passing was as good as could be expected. Combined with Thomas -- who had another 40/4 passing ratio, by the way -- the two center mids in Pareja's 4-4-2 had 177 combined 'plays' on the Opta chalkboard. The two center backs only had 148 plays combined. The two center backs rarely saw the ball compared to the fullbacks and the midfielders, which is a very good thing considering how often attacks have come from the middle of the park this year against the Rapids.
It did all end up breaking up in the second half when Kenny Miller slipped through the center to score what looked like it would be the winning goal, but if you remove that unfortunate tally the only other big blemish was a goal that came off of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings doing the defending. If Larentowicz and Thomas can keep the back four steady in the future as they did for most of that game, we should be just fine going into next season. (Getting a solid center back to replace Marshall wouldn't hurt, either. That's really just picking nits, though.)