As you well know, our Colorado Rapids earned a hard fought draw against who I believe are our new archrivals, FC Dallas 1-1. I found it a very entertaining game, although not everyone agreed:
I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I found it glorious. But I may have burgundy-tinted glasses. Fine. Guilty as charged.
Did we find anything else out about our Rapids? We have the good and the concern (not the ‘bad,’ for when a team is on this run, let’s just call it ‘concern’).
- The best offensive team in MLS needed a golazo to draw with the best defensive team in MLS. That spoke volumes. That gives the Rapids 14 goals allowed in 20 games. This wasn't our best defensive night.
- Marlon Hairston might be the biggest surprise for the Colorado Rapids, maybe even MLS. He is one cool customer. His pace and nose for goal were apparent, though at first he kept kicking it where the goalkeeper stood. The goal against Sporting Kansas City on July 16 seemed to open the door. The poaching and the putaway against FC Dallas showed he can keep his head about him. We’ve needed that (which I’ll address in the ‘concern’ section).
- Three points behind FC Dallas (still) with three games in hand, giving the Rapids an insane 15-game unbeaten streak.
- The atmosphere at DSGP has been fantastic. All of us in the South Stands participated in the Viking clap during corner kicks. More please. Let’s keep it up!
- Oh, our new goalkeeper is pretty stinkin’ good, to the tune of five saves last night. Our backline could have helped him much, much more.
Four goals in four games. Many in the Rapids Twitterverse lament that the Rapids did not go for that second goal more strongly. Many fans bemoan that Shkelzen Gashi and Kevin Doyle haven’t scored more, or that the Rapids in general haven’t scored more: 23 goals in 20 games, putting them 15th in the league. Clearly, no one will confuse us with FC Dallas’ offense. We hope that the coaching staff will resolve these issues.
The question I have is: what harm would it do to put both Gashi and Doyle as dual strikers? It’s here I betray my lack of understanding of tactics. I know that the coaching staff is committed to the 4-2-3-1, which has been tremendous defensively. But we are 12th in the league with shots taken (263). Would a 4-4-2 produce more opportunities?
More are needed. Consider the last two goals the Rapids have scored (which, as it happens) are Marlon Hairston’s last two goals. Rather than those goals being in the run of play with intentional offensive development, these goals came about by the opponents’ mistakes deep in their own half. Hairston’s goals were sheer brilliance, and I take nothing away from his technique, but Rapids fans would feel much better going forward seeing more offensive discipline and organization (which, I must say, the first half provided that, just without any hitting the back of the net).
The Main Takeaway
Our defense will put us in a position to get deep in the playoffs, especially when Bobby Burling returns. Figuring out the offense will make us MLS Cup favorites. Our defense will keep us in every single game, and with the parity of MLS, that’s a great thing! The difference between 1st in the West and 6th in the West is minimal.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments section.