When the final whistle blew at Dick's Sporting Goods Park, I sensed serious disappointment from the Colorado Rapids home faithful. My first thought, however, was, "Man, all the parts are there--they just need to adjust up front and we'll be in business." I was genuinely encouraged.
Encouraged? Yes. Now, let me share why you think I'm crazy, and I'll tell you why I'm totally sane and pumped about what's next.
Twenty-One to Nine! The Rapids had 21 shots on goal to New York City FC's 9. I'm crazy because you're thinking, "We couldn't score one out of 21? We couldn't score when we were a man up? Encouraged? Get outta here!"
Consider: Given how anemic their offense was against the Philadelphia Union two weeks ago, and given how the last three months of 2014 were regarding shots on goal, I didn't hold out much hope. Badji did not look fit, so I'm holding out judgment on him until his fitness improves. I thought Dillon Powers and Gabriel Torres looked downright spry (although Powers had the case of the Eloundous--he kept slipping when trying to make a cut). If our set pieces hadn't been plagued by the heavy foot of Vicente Sanchez, we'd have scored at least one. Which leads me to the next...
Letting Down Almost 17,000 fans. "Perfect weather, great atmosphere--you gotta pull that one out, right?" I could just feel the fans ready to explode when we score. But I remember last year's swan dive--we didn't have much for which to cheer. But Saturday? Waves upon waves of excitement due to the pressure, pressure, pressure they put on John Saunders and NYCFC. Rapids fans can bemoan the team putting a zero up on offense, but John Saunders played another solid game (he's only given up one goal in three games--and that goal was on a deflection against Orlando City SC). Let's not discount that.
How About That Defense? "Look, NYCFC came out flat-footed [as I read from another news source] and that's why they didn't put up any on the board." Truth? The Rapids have a formidable defense. That back four along with Clint Irwin are a stout defense that, I believe, could shape up to be the top defense in the league. In fact, if we could slightly adjust our offense, we could have a lot of 1-0 and 2-0 wins on our hands. Now, we have two 0-0 games in the books.
While we're at it, check out Irwin's lovely save off David Villa's try:
I left my home away from home in the South Stands of DSGP bummed about the 0-0 loss, but encouraged that this team could, with some fixing up top (what? I don't know with who we have now) we could be in business. It can be done--and with all the good things that have happened over this past week (signing Kevin Doyle; jersey sponsor), I'm more encouraged by our front office's movement.
Yes, encouraged. I stand by that.