It was always going to go this way it seems. If ever there was going to be a team to put our beloved Colorado Rapids out of their misery, it would be Real Salt Lake. Our most bitter rival has generally gotten one over on us over the last several years and getting thumped by them in Sandy, Utah pretty much put the exclamation point on this season:
(but is there hope? To be covered over the next several months)
And although the Rapids are not officially out of the playoff race, eight points back with only 5 games left is, in all appearances, too big an ask.
Here is The Good, The Bad, The Ugly--Colorado Rapids, Round 29
The Good--El Matador
It is tough to find any good from a match where you get spanked 5-1, but this is the rare exception. Jose Mari had stunner of a strike from a long way out to temporarily give the Rapids the lead. It was a sensational strike that seemed to curve at will, almost as if the ball had a mind of its own. This is the third such physics defying strike that Mari has had this year, and I hope that he has one or two more in him.
The Bad--Bad Choices
Simply put, Joe Nasco had a forgetful night. He was dreadful for the bulk of the evening and in his three starts he has gone 0-3, with a GAA of 2.0. It would be higher if he had played more that 34 seconds in his second start. I am in no way laying this at him. You win and lose as a team. But what I am curious is to why Clint Irwin is not starting. Anyone who knows soccer knows the problem is NOT at goalkeeper, but from a grossly outmatched defense. Irwin was doing pretty well before his defense forgot how to play (see below). Play the man. He is your starter. (This could also be said about one Designated Player we have as well)
The Ugly--Looking Deeper at the Record and the Tale of Two Seasons
It has been easy for many in the soccer community to blame injuries or suspensions for the Rapids slide (0-8-1), but I was looking at the schedule and things started to go pear shaped at the World Cup Break. To wit:
Through June 7, the Rapids were 6-5-4 (for 22 points) and were in playoff shape
Since the World Cup break they have been 2-9-3 (for 9 points) and are in seventh place in the West
Granted, injuries along the back line have taken their toll. No doubt. But that is an excuse, as defenders generally do not score goals. Looking further at the offensive and defensive numbers, the following is gleamed:
|Dates||Goals For (Per Game)||Goals Against (Per Game)||Points Per Game|
|3/15 thru 6/7 (15 matches)||1.4||1.2||1.46|
|6/28 thru 9/19 (14 matches)||1.3||2.5||0.64|
Certainly, offensive numbers have dropped slightly, but the Rapids were not an offensive juggernaut before the World Cup break. That being said, in eight of the 14 games after the break, our Burgundy Boys scored one or fewer goals. (And have been shut out four times). The offense has not been good enough.
But the defense is where things truly went belly up. If you take the final 14 games, Shane O'Neill has missed nine of them and Drew Moor has missed the better part of six games. And the guys that tried to fill those shoes, were unable to do it. That falls on the Lads behind them in depth chart and the guys that were asked to play out of position by and large were unable to get the job done.
What does this all mean? It means being below the red line and missing the playoffs. But it does not mean going quietly into the night. There are still five competitive matches left and against San Jose this weekend I would like to see this lineup:
GK: Clint Irwin
DEF: Chris Klute, Shane O'Neill, Thomas Piermayr, Marvell Wynne
MID: Dillon Serna, Jose Mari, Nick LaBrocca, Dillon Powers
F: Charles Eloundou, Gabriel Torres
BENCH: John Berner, Kamani Hill, Marlon Hairston, John Neeskens, Marc Burch, Deshorn Brown, Davy Armstrong