Over the weekend, the re-building Colorado Rapids faced Portland Timbers in a match filled with intrigue, questionable calls (not sure either PK was justified), coaches wearing jeans, and four goals. In a lively and entertaining 2-2 draw, the Rapids showed some glimpses into the future and showed some grit in dealing with multiple injuries in front of, well, almost no one at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.
The Good: The fight and passion. This was a largely young and inexperienced team that Oscar Pareja put out there against the Timbers. Three first year players (Clint Irwin, Dillon Powers--who had the goal of the week in my opinion, and Deshorn Brown) started along with three second year players (Tony Cascio, Shane O'Neill, and Chris Klute) and of the 14 players who took the pitch on Saturday, half of them were not on the team in 2012. All of that being said, the team acquitted themselves well. Would all three points have been nice? Of course it would have, but the team played with fire, fight and passion. It is exciting to see what this team can accomplish going forward.
The Bad: The other side of a young team is mistakes and unforced errors are bound to happen (see the bad defensive position on the first Portland goal). The spat of injuries continues and the fact that this team is still playing and not losing confidence is a tribute to their professionalism and commitment to the organization. That being said, the club needs its senior players back. Whereas I am impressed with the younger lads on the team, senior players bring confidence, leadership and game management that, at times, the group lacked on Saturday.
The Ugly: This was a toss up for me as I could speak to the head coach wearing jeans, bad officiating, or my disdain for the necessary (on Saturday) 4-4-2 formation. But when I look back at this match what I remember most were the empty seats. The park was 65% full according to official numbers from the Rapids, but it looked far emptier then that. The supporters who were there were loud, boisterous and as passionate as ever, but I wonder why it is so damn hard to get people there. This is an exciting young team with a tremendous future. It is too bad that more people in the Front Range area will not come out and watch this team play.
So the Rapids are 0-3-2 going into Rocky Mountain Cup week with a nationally televised match against our arch rival on Saturday at 5:30PM. I can think of no better opportunity for the boys in Burgundy to notch their first win of the year. Personally I would like to see Tony Cascio, Danny Mwanga, and Deshorn Brown up front and go all out to beat Real Salt Lake. A victory on Saturday will do absolute wonders for the lads confidence and act as a springboard going into the second month of the season.