It has been a very long time since the Colorado Rapids played an Major League Soccer quality opponent and this past Sunday they did as they took on the San Jose Earthquakes. The result was typical for a pre-season match and for a team trying to find its identity, a 0-2 loss to San Jose may not have been the worse thing that could have happened. With the loss to the Quakes, the Rapids bring their record on the pre-season to 1-1-0, after defeating UNLV 2-0 last Friday. So what is there to take away from all of this? Here is the Good, the Bad, the Ugly--Las Vegas Edition:
The Good--A Good Run Out: Many Rapids players from last season saw their first meaningful action in the loss to San Jose. The match saw starters/regulars such as Clint Irwin, Shane O'Neill, Marc Burch, Vicente Sanchez, Dillon Serna, Gabriel Torres, Carlos Alvarez and Jared Watts. Also seeing time were Joe Greenspan, Axel Sjoberg, Michael Harrington, Marcelo Sarvas, and Caleb Calvert. Look, everyone wants to win every game, and it sucks to lose to the Quakes at any point but....this game was more about guys getting out there and getting minutes against an MLS team.
The Bad--Some Offensive Concerns: Although these were just pre-season matches, there is some concerns in generating goals. The Rapids were shut out on Sunday and seemed to lack a general ability to get the offense going. This could be because of a new formation or not their normal Starting XI, but the bottom line is that they need to score to win games. The match against UNLV, albeit a victory, still shows some warning signs. It took until the second half to score and late in the match to bury the game. Again, this is only pre-season, but it gives some flashbacks to the scoring woes of the 2014 season.
The Ugly--The Barometric Pressure is Off: Make no mistake, preseason or not, this was an important match for the Rapids. Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni said as much:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Quakes to be the first test of 2015 for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rapids96?src=hash">#Rapids96</a>. <a href="http://t.co/UJuhTbeKOY">http://t.co/UJuhTbeKOY</a> <a href="http://t.co/46D7rifEyt">pic.twitter.com/46D7rifEyt</a></p>— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) <a href="https://twitter.com/ColoradoRapids/status/567030466721488896">February 15, 2015</a></blockquote>
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If this was a match that the Rapids were going to use to check where they were at, well, then, things are not good. The Rapids could not generate much in the way of offense and looked poor. You certainly do not want to get too excited or bummed about the pre-season, but right now, the 'barometric pressure' is not quite right. This is OK for now, but you want to see some progress in the next couple of weeks.
The Rapids are in Tucson in the Desert Diamond Cup where they take on New England Revolution, Sporting Kansas City and FC Tucson. I would expect more lineup experimentation to start but towards the end of the tournament a more consistent Starting XI should emerge.