After waiting out a 21 hour snow delay, the Colorado Rapids and Philadelphia Union got to it under beautiful late winter skies in Commerce City on Sunday. Although the result was certainly not something that was expected, there was plenty to take away from the match and enough to draw some basic conclusions on the team.
Cue up the Ennio Morricone music for this week's The Good, The Bad, The Ugly:
The Good: Jamie Smith. It was clear that the team was missing something after Pablo Mastroeni went out early in the first half with a hamstring issue. Smith seemed to be a calming presence and clearly began to dictate play and caused the Union fits. His goal was very pretty and you had the sense after that moment that the Rapids were going to come back and take all three points.
The Bad: losing Pablo so early clearly rattled the squad. The same problems that plagued the team last year, from a leadership perspective, showed up again after the 8th minute. The midfield settled down later in the first half and dominated possession again, but right now this team needs its leader on the field and Pablo is that person. Rapids supporters have to hope that it is a minor injury and that Pablo does not miss significant time.
The Ugly: again, the defense was the achilles heel. Whether it is a goalkeeper error, missed assignments on set pieces, or poor communication between Drew Moor and Diego Calderon, the defense had a bad day. I appreciate that people need to have time to work together, to gel, as it were. But errors in the back have cost the Rapids points in ther first two matches of the young season.
The plus with all of this is that it is very early. The Rapids have a tough opening schedule with road games in Dallas, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. I think most logical supporters would have seen an opening week loss in Dallas but would have expected three points on Sunday.
The Rapids will be near the bottom of the table to start to the year off, but once again there are clear signs of optimism. The possession numbers are staggering (this past week was 64%-36% in favor of the Rapids). The midfield is playing well and Deshorn Brown is going to score a fair amount this year. If the team can cut down on some of the mental mistakes and find additional leadership beyond Pablo, good things can and will happen in Commerce City this year.