I suffer from a chronic ailment since I started covering the Colorado Rapids and more importantly when I became Managing Editor last February. It is called:
I want the Rapids to win, and if it is not by some heretofore unknown way, I am unsatisfied. It gets to the point that the result doesn't matter if the win is not the way I envisioned it.
Lame. I know.
But I'd argue that complaining that the Rapids did not win "pretty" is sure a heck of a lot better than seeing them play like they did in 2014 and 2015. And yes, Pablo Mastroeni needs to get better at man-management, but as a fan (which I will always be before Managing Editor) I need to calm myself and be pleased with this win.
Is there a cure for this?
I think they only thing that cures Burgundy-A-Phobia is time. I think I still have this innate fear that the Rapids will regress and play the PabloBall from the last two years. I would think that there are a lot of Rapids fans who may feel that way as well. Sometimes I think I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. That somehow the ugly will be back.
And here is the deal--if we get a second star atop our jersey this season, am I, or anyone for that matter, going to care that we struggled against a terrible team at home on June 18?
I think not.
So I am excited about the win. I am excited about spending the evening with my Dad (we had a blast). I am excited I got to see so many good people and friends last night. And most of all I am pumped that the Rapids bled some Burgundy last night and got a hard fought win.
Here are the thoughts of Pablo after the match:
On Rapids' performance in the first half...
I thought it was the second time where our opponents were comfortable sitting deep and looking for a counter. I think we were overly patient in the first half, but I think in the second half we came out with a better mentality and we knew they were going to get tired at some point.
But I thought Marlon [Hairston] and Mekeil [Williams], especially on the right side, did a good job forcing the game and really forcing the pace, and when you have teams running back to their own goal, good things happen and I think we were a bit fortuitous - especially on the second [shot] - but I think Kevin [Doyle], his work ethic up front to scramble, press, pick up the loose ball and finish was really well-deserved on his part for the night.
Again winning is a skill, you've got to learn how to do it, it doesn't come easy. And I think these guys, you know, we gave up a late goal against Philadelphia, and we reflected upon that. I think today, giving up that late goal, there was the belief that we've been here before, we've talked about it, and this is how we're going to achieve it.
On Marlon Hairston's performance in the match...
I think Marlon was really bright, and it's something that we've been working on for the last two weeks, since we got together, which is being aggressive, taking people on, bringing your teammates into the game. I think he made a lot of good runs in the first half. I think in the second half he drove the guys forward. It was very good to see.
On making three quick substitutions after Chicago's equalizer...
Obviously I wanted to get the tempo into the game. There were a lot of lulls in today's game, and give credit to Chicago for being really well organized and well coached. I think they played a really good game, so when they tied it up I thought it was really important to let everyone know that we're going to win this game. We're not okay with how things are going. We want to press the ball a little bit more. There were some tired legs on the defensive side and we weren't able to get them to turn the ball over enough. But I think those three guys that came in, what I would say to the group is, ‘You gotta be ready to come in and make a difference.' And game after game, the guys come in and contribute in such a way that allows us to keep this uniform, so that's what I'm excited about.
On the team learning and growing from matches throughout the season...
It's huge. The way I think I've evolved as a coach is understanding I can't go out and affect the game from that perspective, and allowing the players and the leadership group to really take hold and all the problems are going to be solved on the field. And so it's great to see guys taking ownership of the team. Like I've said from the beginning, it's a player-led, player-owned culture down here. And for that, you need brave characters who aren't afraid to take on responsibility. And so credit to the guys who really put the team on their backs and lead by example. There were a lot of great performances tonight, but for me it's the collective spirit of the group and that mentality to come away with three points tonight.
On Marco Pappa's fitness and progress coming back from injury...
I think after you suffer an injury that keeps you out for two months or more, my biggest concern is not bringing him in too early to where his body hasn't been acclimated to the pace of the game and the way we want to play. You know, he was slated to play sixty minutes midweek against the Switchbacks and he came over and said he had a little bit more in the tank. So it was important for me to get that balance right. Obviously, we're up a goal, I wanted to give him some minutes, but the way the game was going it was a bit edgy, but I think when he came in, he did exceptionally well. So now the focus is on Wednesday and we'll start his gradual incline in minutes and league play, and hopefully he gets through 60-75 good minutes midweek.
On the first goal giving the team more momentum...
I think a lot of times people misconstrue the fact that we want it to be slow, we want it to be a lot of sideways passes that go back. Our opponents on the field are well-versed in the way they want to come out and defend us. Credit to Chicago and their coaching staff for putting together a game plan that made it difficult for us to find a lot of energy. They slowed the game down. On goal kicks, they were very deliberate in the way they took the throw-ins and the way they were managing the game. They did a good job managing the game. And I think the way you can affect that the most is by pressing higher and forcing people to play at your pace, which is high-tempo, fast-paced. Every game there's something to learn from, whether you win or lose, and this game is no different.