Colorado Rapids ventured out of the United States for the first time in the 2014 Major League Soccer season to take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC. A sell-out crowd at BC Place saw two stunning strikes by Jose Mari and some spectacular saves by Clint Irwin and left disappointed as the Burgundy Boys came away with a 2-1 victory. The win brought the Rapids to 2-1-1 on the year and into fourth place in the Western Conference.
Here is The Good, The Bad, The Ugly-Colorado Rapids, Round Five
The Good-Another Road Result
The adage is "win at home, and draw on the road." The Rapids are certainly taking this to heart. In their two road games they are 1-0-1 and have not seemed to be too concerned about being away from the Mile High Air in Commerce City. Certainly you can focus on the spectacular goalkeeping by Clint Irwin (CFI) and the magnificent strikes by Jose Mari (JFM), but that ignores the fact that the Rapids won the game itself. Road results, by nature, are not always pretty (we are not talking about resorting to a Quakes brand of soccer), but gritty and difficult. The Rapids have shown, through the first month of the season that they can grind out a road result when needed.
The Bad-Defensive Struggles
For as good as CFI was on Saturday, he needed to be to keep the Rapids in the game. After watching the game again I am convinced that the Rapids are not sure who their back four are-let alone getting the right personnel in the right place. Is Shane O'Neill a right back or a center back? Should Marvell Wynne be in the middle, patterned with Drew Moor? I don't know if I have the answer to that question, but I do believe it is going to be an ongoing question.
The Ugly-4-2-3-1 vs 4-4-2 vs 4-1-4-1
Pablo Mastroeni debuted a 4-4-2 (diamond) formation against Vancouver with mixed results. I am a strong believer in a 4-4-2 formation over the normal 4-2-3-1 that has been played in the past year. The challenge with going to a diamond is to ensure the proper personnel are in place to make it work. I do not believe that Pablo had the right people in place, but you can't argue with its success. If the diamond is rolled out against Toronto FC, I would propose this as a Starting XI:
Marc Burch-Marvell Wynne-Drew Moor-Shane O'Neill
Vicente Sanchez-Dillon Serna
Gabriel Torres-Edson Buddle
The Rapids have a heck of a difficult test this weekend as they make their second consecutive trip to Canada as they take on the new-look Toronto FC. The Rapids have a terrible record in Toronto (save for that one game in late 2010) and to get a result they are going to have to play a solid match. Their defense needs to be stronger to neutralize the Toronto attack and the Rapids need to be more agressive on the attack. Is it possible for the Rapids to get a result? Only time will tell.