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Thinking About the Rapids Offense: How Concerned Should We Be?

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It has been ugly, from an offensive perspective, for the Rapids so far in 2015. Is it time to freak out?

Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

"The Colorado Rapids offense is truly offensive!"

That was one of the comments I got sent to me after the Rapids 0-0 draw with Houston Dynamo on Saturday night.  And you know what, I get it.  The offense has been putrid so far in 2015 and it dates all the way back to 2014.  It is terribly scary when you think the last Rapids goal was the 30th minute strike from John Neeskens in a 2-1 loss to Chivas USA on October 11.

Yes, that means it has been over 5 1/2 games since the Rapids have scored.  Or 510 minutes if you prefer it that way.

Regardless of how you look at it, it has been a hell of a long time.  In the Rapids podcast last week it was made abundantly clear that they are not worrying about what happened last year and I think it is good that the Rapids are focusing on this year.

But should we be concerned?

Before I attempt to answer this, lets look at offensive statistics so far in 2015:

Position Minutes Played Shots Shots on Goal
Clint Irwin GK 270 0 0
Lucas Pittinari M 270 1 0
Michael Harrington D 270 0 0
Gabriel Torres F 254 6 3
Marcelo Sarvas M 192 5 2
Dillon Powers M 190 5 2
Axel Sjoberg D 180 1 0
Marc Burch D 180 2 1
Sam Cronin M 180 3 0
Dominique Badji F 160 1 0
Bobby Burling D 158 1 0
Vicente Sanchez F 141 1 1
Shane O'Neill D 106 0 0
Juan Ramirez M 94 1 1
Dillon Serna M 90 0 0
James Riley D 90 0 0
Jared Watts D 90 0 0
Carlos Alvarez M 31 2 0

Yes, I know I am including Irwin, but he has as many shots as five outfield players.

Now here are the offensive statistics from each of the Rapids three 0-0 draws this year:

Shots Shots on Goal Blocked Shots Total Passes Passing Accuracy Possession
at Philadelphia Union 2 0 0 319 64% 37.9%
vs New York City FC 21 7 4 368 82% 48.9%
at Houston Dynamo 6 3 0 428 69% 49.1%

To add insult to injury, the Rapids are the only team to not score this year (New England Revolution, D.C. United, Chicago Fire, Montreal Impact, and the Dynamo all have scored 2 goals).

But they are also the only team to not give up a goal.

Their awesome defense notwithstanding, should we be concerned?

Yes, we should be concerned, but it is not the time to press the panic button (but another game without a goal and we will)

How can I justify this optimistic view?  Well, I will look at it game by game.

In game one, against the Union: the Rapids were playing on the road in difficult conditions and were down a man for a third of the match.  The lineup was clearly set to defend and grab a point on the road.  The Rapids did that and did it ugly.  This is a match that they lose in 2014, but their renewed commitment to defense was in full effect.  I don't know if I could say they parked the bus, but they certainly had it damn near the parking lot.  The Rapids were not trying to score and started a rookie up front.  This was disappointing from an offensive perspective, but the goal was to get a point and not lose.

In game two, against NYCFC: the Rapids were significantly more aggressive on the offensive end and had 21 shots with 7 of them on goal.  They would have scored if not for an tremendous performance from Josh Saunders in goal.  Make no mistake, the Rapids should have done better with the ball, but the opposition goalkeeper was fantastic.  It happens.  No shame in admitting this.

In game three, against the Dynamo: the Rapids hit the road again but were more aggressive on the offensive end then in game one.  They lodged 3 shots on goal, and again, got bested by a great performance from Tyler Deric of the Dynamo in goal.

A cause for concern going forward: the Rapids are still struggling with possession and their passing has been crap.  They have had passing accuracy numbers under 70% in two thirds of their matches and the bad passing leads to turnovers and reduced possession.  Whereas possession is not everything, you cannot score if you cannot posses the ball.

A cause for optimism going forward: look at the passing and possession numbers.  Those are improving and have gotten better in every match.  This will eventually translate into goals.

So, no, I am not completely freaking out about the Rapids lack of scoring.  I do honestly believe that the proverbial floodgates will open when the first goal goes in.  And the weight that will be lifted off their shoulders will be massive.  I am not willing to say this player or that player needs to start performing.  Football is a team game.  Everyone is responsible.  But it takes one special moment from one player to score and when that happens the fortunes of this team will change.  All of this optimism and pie in the sky thinking will all be for naught if the offense does not find a way to score.  They have a brutal April schedule and they have got to find a way to score goals.  And soon.