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Sporting Kansas City 3 Colorado Rapids 2 - Shaky Defense Dooms Rapids

The Colorado Rapids couldn't get enough penalty kicks to overcome sloppy defensive play and shoddy goalkeeping. The loss is the first for Pablo Mastroeni in his coaching career and Kansas City's first victory in Denver in 10 years.

Pablo Mastroeni should have been celebrating a victory, but Aurelien Collin does the honors instead.
Pablo Mastroeni should have been celebrating a victory, but Aurelien Collin does the honors instead.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

At some point, the Colorado Rapids are going to have to figure out how to score a goal during the run of play. The urgency to pick up the goal scoring pace became evident against Sporting Kansas City as a number of defensive miscues sunk the Rapids.

Sporting Kansas City scored two late goals to overcome a brief Rapids 2-1 lead, an advantage built on (what else?) a pair of penalty kicks from Vicente Sanchez. The Rapids have now scored five goals in 2014, all from the penalty spot.

Sporting Kansas City actually looked pretty disinterested for most stretches of the game. But they beat leftback Marc Burch on a long pass in the first half to open scoring with an easy Graham Zusi goal. A seemingly injured Burch came off for Nathan Sturgis, a defensive midfielder by trade who got stuck into the backline. His inexperience there was evident when he couldn't help clear out a loose ball in the Rapids box, which Benny Feilhaber then poked by John Berner.

Then in stoppage time Rapids captain Drew Moor backpedaled away from an oncoming Dom Dwyer, who took full advantage of Moor's reticence and top-shelved a screaming shot past Berner. Another thing the Rapids learned is that Berner won't be and can't be the top man in net for the Rapids this year. The three Sporting Kansas City goals weren't necessarily his fault, but he didn't look particularly sharp, either.

In all, defensive breakdowns torpedoed what would have been a welcomed victory against the defending Major League Soccer champions, completing a season-opening triumvirate of top opponents from a year ago without a loss.

Of course, the defense doesn't solely shoulder the blame. Nick LaBrocca somehow couldn't put away an open shot on net in the first half after Sanchez sent Sporting Kansas City midfielder Oriol Rosell stumbling and bumbling toward the Terrace and managed to pass the ball past keeper Eric Kronberg to a waiting LaBrocca. But LaBrocca, instead of firing in a sure goal, meekly delivered a shot from the outside of the his foot, which Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler had no trouble clearing off the line.

Edson Buddle also had a nice look at the goal after outmaneuvering a couple defenders, but got stopped by Kronberg.

The end result was a deeply disappointing one for the Rapids, which for many stretches of the game outplayed Sporting Kansas City. But 700-some Sporting Kansas City fans get to make the long trip on Interstate 70 with a victory in hand, while the Rapids stew over the first loss of the 2014 campaign.