A little bit of magic happened at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Saturday afternoon as the Colorado Rapids defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0 to not only notch the first victory of the season but also give the Rapids a great opportunity at retaking the Rocky Mountain Cup for the first time since 2006.
Cue up the Ennio Morricone music for The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Week 6 edition.
The Good: Obviously the first win of the season is the overall highlight, but there were several things that stood out this weekend:
- Defensive cohesion--RSL had the majority of possession, but they never seemed to threaten. The only real threat was when the RSL midfielder took a dive and won a PK. Marvell Wynne, Chris Klute, Shane O’Neill and Brian Mullan were very solid in the back.
- Clint Irwin--What more can be said about the young Rapids goalkeeper that has not been said? He was massive all game and the PK save was the highlight of the match.
- Edson Buddle--Many people are taking about the goal by Atiba Harris and the save by Irwin, but Buddle did the dirty work in the middle to get the assist on the goal. He was a physical beast and gave everything despite not being 100% fit and showed a little of what made the Rapids trade for him.
The bad: As good as the defense was, and as solid as Clint Irwin was, the Rapids are going to need more production from the front line. For the year, there have only been two goals by recognized strikers and this is going to need to change if the Rapids are going to make a push for the top 5 in the Western Conference. 1-0 games will be tough to consistently win, so more goals will need to be a focus in the next couple of months.
The Ugly: Decisions, Decisions....so when we get some of the senior players back healthy (and for some that may be a while), what do you do with the younger lads who have proven that they can play at this level? On one hand, the senior experience is invaluable and can eliminate some of the unforced errors that have been seen this year. But on the other hand, the young guys have stepped up. Klute, Irwin, O’Neill, Powers, Brown....all young and hungry to get that starting XI spot. Oscar Pareja is going to have some difficult decisions ahead of him.
So the Rapids are 1-3-2 with 5 points on the year and only 2 points out of a playoff spot. They have a (surprisingly) tough road game at Chivas USA on Saturday before returning home to face Seattle. The Rapids are 0-2-1 on the road and dropped their last game at the Home Depot Center 1-0. However, the team continues to play with confidence and after the win on Saturday and I would not be shocked to see them win their first on the road.