3-0 against San Jose.
1-0 against Sporting Kansas City.
2-1 against the Columbus Crew SC.
2-1 against the Portland Timbers this past Saturday.
That's 12 points in the last four games at home, with two away losses snuggled in between the Quakes and SKC against a very good Chicago Fire team and a lower tiered Philadelphia Union squad. (Fine! That's 12 points in the last six games total.)
In light of this, I ask one question, and mainly it's the question to the gentleman staring back at me in the mirror: when will this Rapids fan ever learn a little patience?
Given the parity in MLS, as well as the length of the season, teams have the ability to go on a run and get back into the playoff race rather quickly. After eight games, our Colorado Rapids had four—count 'em—four points (1-6-1). San Jose's slow wing play started the Rapids' home streak on May 13 (and the first game under the Mastroeni tenure that he employed a 4-4-2), giving them some much-needed momentum.
Also consider that during the recent home streak, the Rapids have given up two goals, while scoring eight. Both of those goals were due to (maddeningly) horrid defensive breakdowns giving the Crew and the Timbers mostly uncontested shots on goals they easily converted.
During the five game losing streak, two ideas kept running through my mind: (1) will they ever win again? and (2) from where will the goals come? Not only weren't they scoring, they weren't even threatening goal—or so it appeared.
Prior to the winning streak starting on May 13 against San Jose, the Rapids averaged 8.25 shots on goal, with 2.125 on target. In the four away matches, the Rapids had 25 shots on goal, with 11 of those in one game at Minnesota United. In two of those games, they had three shots on target against the New York Red Bulls and Orlando City each.
Abysmal, right? But let's look at how they are doing since and compare. In the last six games, the Rapids averaged 8.33 shots on goal (similar to before the streak), but now with just over 3.8 of those shots on target (compared to 2.125). All this with them losing the possession battle. This could indicate a more aggressive approach coupled with a putting the right pieces in the right places and finding some chemistry, but we as fans are seeing this team gel right before our eyes.
Granted, in our obsession with numbers that breakdown everything for shots, shots on target, to the shoe size of each scorer in MLS, there's really only one set of numbers that matter—wins and losses. Before the streak, the Rapids were 1-6-1. Now they are:
- 5-8-1 at 16 points;
- not in last place;
- one point behind Real Salt Lake with three games in hand;
- four points outside of a playoff spot; AND
- we've beaten first place SKC and third place Portland.
My favorite play of the night
While Dominique Badji's finish was 'sexy' (as the recap dude on AM 950 said not once, not twice, but three times) and 'filthy' as Andrew Wiebe noted, what was just as delightful was Kevin Doyle's pass that threaded the needle. In watching the replay, I don't believe the angle provided does this pass justice.
Perfectly weighted, leading Badji into the right area for him to make that exquisite finish. They make a good team for about 70 minutes, with Alan Gordon coming in for Badji much like a relief pitcher (closer?) in baseball.
Back to the original question
When will I ever learn? Why is it every year I grew impatient and disenchanted so early in the season? Yes, I've been called the resident positivist, but I was falling off that wagon.
But I'm thankful the season is not eight games long, but 34 games long. And given how this team is coming together, Rapids fans will thoroughly enjoy the ride.
When will I ever learn? Maybe one day.