The Colorado Rapids and New York Red Bulls took the pitch at Red Bull Arena Wednesday and came away with a 1-1 draw in a match that featured a number of missed opportunities, some questionable defense, but overall a decent point.
The Rapids were led by a first half goal from Gabriel Torres but gave up the equalizer shortly there after when Ben Newnam bowled over a Red Bulls player in the box and the subsequent PK was converted.
My thoughts about this match:
First, the Starting XI for the Rapids: Clint Irwin, Michael Harrington, Axel Sjoberg, Bobby Burling, Newnam, Nick LaBrocca, Lucas Pittinari, Juan Ramirez, Dillon Powers, Torres, Dominique Badji
1) Finishing is Still Poor: Badji had a number of great looks at goal and simply could not find a way to put those chances into the back of the net. It seemed like his touch let him down at the last minute on multiple occasions and I like his speed to get open, but man....you have got to score when the opportunity presents itself.
2) Lineup Decisions: Newnam made his first MLS appearance and start and Drew Moor fell injured after he was announced in the starting XI. It was a blow to lose Moor, but Burling filled in for him and took the armband and made several thundering challenges to break up NYRB attacks. As for Newnam, he looked like a first year player and he did commit a foul that led to the first half penalty for NY. Some folks on twitter were wondering why he was in the lineup, but look at the schedule. It sucks right now. You have to think with Newnam starting today that a player like James Riley will start on Saturday night.
3) Still the Little Things: Forgetting about the actual result for a moment, there were a number of little moments in the game that the Rapids still struggle with. From Ramirez missing Sam Cronin on a wide open passing opportunity to Newnam not getting out of the way and get open on a pass in the first half....there are little things the Rapids still struggle with. Passing, shooting and tactics all need to get better for this team to become the team that I believe they can be.
4) Pablo Still Learning: Subbing out an attacker for a D-Mid with 20 minutes (plus) left in a match tells supporters that you are not even trying to win. Yes, points are critical, but in a match that you legitimately had a shot at winning, you can't throw in the towel that early. I know that Mastroeni is still learning how to be a coach, but it is frustrating to see that sub made then.
Bottom line for me: this was not a pretty match by any stretch, but it is another road point for a team that struggled big time on the road in 2014.
The Rapids are on the road this Saturday in Carson, California to play defending MLS Cup Champions LA Galaxy. The match will be shown on Altitude TV at 8:30 PM MDT.