I found Colorado Rapids Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni's post-game interview an interesting read. Everyone is talking about their lack of scoring. I'm thinking, "Wow, we're not giving up 78 goals a game like 2014." All in one's perspective.
I found his postgame comments very balanced. Defense? Great--let's work to get better. Offense? We need a goal! It's on this that I wonder as a coach: how do you get that, as Mastroeni said, that piano off your back?
My concern is: are we getting the opportunity to score? That’s what we can control both as a staff and group of players. Are you finding the opportunities in the games to score? After that, it’s just technique. Not only is it technique but you have an opposing team trying to stop you. So we have to put ourselves in the position to score. We have to keep working hard which will be our focus in training this week.
It seems they are finding positions to score (for what that's worth) but in not over thinking the room (er, pitch?). Opportunities abounded for the last two matches. And Pablo was pleased as far as that's concerned--and well he should be. If they couldn't find opportunities, then he and the whole front line should find other work. It's here that Pablo's coaching ability will be tested. How will he with his defensive background lead his forwards and midfielders to find the back of the net. They will just need to get out of their own way.
All-world saxophonist Charlie Parker once said, "You learn your scales, you learn your scales, then you forget all about that stuff and just play." These are professional players who got to the dance by having skill. They need to just trust themselves and play!
I also found it interesting that in two cases, he invoked how certain players (in this case, Juan Ramirez and Marcelo Sarvas) were new and, in Ramirez's case, "still about understanding the way we want to do things."
I know some will look at this and say, "Well, how the Rapids do things isn't working--no goals scored!" Sure, Mastroeni and his time here with the Rapids has not produced a winning formula--yet! I believe that will all change when the Rapids start scoring. You build a team from the back to the front--that's being done in what's shaping up to be the best defense in MLS history (zero goals given up per game on average). Check. You now have another DP slot open, thanks to moving Gabriel Torres out of that slot. Nice work. Check. You've got a solid midfield in place. Powers is playing inspired ball, and Ramirez is a wonder to behold and will give the opposing team fits. Check. I can see Mastroeni's plan coming into shape, even with these maddening 0-0 draws, which he's just as frustrated with as we are. But--the opportunities are there. The players, again, just need to get out of their own way.