Colorado Rapids fans entered into the matchup with Minnesota United FC with high expectations. The Loons gave up five goals in their visit to the Portland Timbers, and six goals in what Minnesotans call a summer afternoon (but what the rest of us call a blizzard) in giving up six goals to Atlanta United FC. For a goal-starved, shot-on-target-starved team like our Rapids, fans in burgundy were licking their chops in hopes they would break out of their drought.
Expectations can stink sometimes, gang.
The Rapids extended their unbeaten at home streak to 19. But I doubt any Rapids fan walked out of Dick's Sporting Goods Park at game's end feeling as if this was anything but a technical and moral loss.
Expectations can stink, yes, but they can be unrealistic as well.
If this game were against anyone else but the expansion Minnesota United, we would draw more positives than many pundits and fans have expressed. That's not to say there weren't concerns.
- Marc Burch was the man of the match. His service into the box on multiple occasions gave the Rapids their primary chances of scoring. Burch did his part and has become a stalwart down the left side. He's a veteran (32 years old) that the Rapids desperately need to serve up the young guns. Case in point...
- The immediate response of our Rapids after going down 2-1 was encouraging. Granted, going down 2-1 to MUFC left this guy and everyone else in the stands that cared stunned. (I confess, I toyed with the idea of leaving, having giving in to unrealistic expectations myself). Both goals the Rapids scored were the results of Loons' mistakes. Leaving both Dominique Badji and Marlon Hairston unmarked so soon after taking the lead was a gift (and again, they were on the receiving end of a fantastic cross by Burch). That showed me a lot, and should encourage all Rapids fans. #KeepFighting isn't just for 2016!
- C38 was in fine form. Apparently, the coverage on TV panned and mic'd up the visiting supporters, making C38 seem inert and inept. That wasn’t the case if you were actually in DSGP! C38 rocked all evening, slowly getting the rest of the stadium involved. Yes, having a supporters group travel to Commerce City to support their new team is impressive, which is what we saw in their home opener against Atlanta. Time will tell if the South Stands is the place C38 will stay. But they give it all they have. It was good to see and hear!
- Bismark Adjei-Boateng's pace and skill will make us miss Jermaine Jones less and less. The ten minutes he played showed he will cause some serious issues for defenses. He passed the eyeball test. (Yes, we can make that judgment after ten minutes of play!)
- Three shots on goal against a Minnesota United squad that gave up 11 the previous two games. Do I hear former Arizona Cardinals (NFL) coach Denny Green in the distance pounding the podium and saying, "they are who we thought they were." Rapids fans, our 2017 rendition of the Burgundy Boys are who we hoped they weren't. We hoped that the defense would remain stout (Axel Sjöberg’s injury put a serious dent into that hope), and that our competition would get out of their scoring funk.
- Both goals were from MNUFC mistakes/turnovers, not from run of play. From a layman's point of view, it seemed as if the Rapids play low risk. If certain players have a choice of passing in the middle to try to make some offensive noise, or passing out to the perimeter where the backline passes the ball around three times per possession, the Rapids opt for the perimeter. Conor Casey needs to help instill desire to take risks and not fear the counterattack so much. They showed more attacking tendencies, but it was more the exception in their play, not the rule.
- Mekeil Williams was not an upgrade from Eric Miller. Here's hoping Miller recovers well from whatever ails him. But Mekeil Williams struggled mightily. He seemed rusty, which is understandable. At first, I thought Miller sat because he himself struggled in the first two games. But that backpass Williams headed toward Howard was Howard's best 'save' of the evening. And the penalty? That took the wind out of the fans sails simply because it looked as if MNUFC would actually scored against us—which fellow Trinidadian Kevin Molino slotted away nicely as Howard guessed wrongly. Speaking of defense...
- Axel Sjöberg’s absence was telling. Cinderella sang a song back in the '80s, "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" —you still hear that growl on 'gone,' don't you? Yet Rapids supporters don't have this problem—we knew that Sjöberg’s 6-8 week absence would put a dent in the defense, which it did. Bobby Burling is a solid defender, but Axel Sjoberg goes about his business in such a 'Big Easy' way that he makes it look almost too easy.
Who do you think was the true man of the match? What positives and negatives did you take from this one? Tell us in the comments!