Let’s look at the goals:
FC Dallas goes up 1-0 (18’)
This is just another example of a goal caused by poor decision-making when under pressure. Dominique Badji is able to break through thanks to being held onside by Marlon Hairston on the far side. Tommy Smith and Axel Sjoberg both start running back, but neither goes at Badji to put real pressure on him. That is mistake number one. If Badji doesn’t feel pressure, he can sit and pick out his pass.
The second key here is the play made by Smith. Just before the ball is played to Max Urruti, Smith stops his recovery run. He was probably thinking that he was cutting out a passing lane, but I would like to see him cut the space between him and Howard (where the ball went) more. Yes, this leaves the cutback open, but with other Rapids recovering, that would likely be the harder ball for Badji to fit.
In the end, give credit to Badji as well. He made a good run and hit a good ball, but the Rapids could have at least made it a little harder.
Rapids tie it up (80’)
Not gonna lie, this is just a really good goal. First, Enzo Martinez finds himself in acres of space, and then he makes a good run so that Hairston can see him with plenty of space to play into.
From here, Enzo has already made his decision. He knows he wants to play a low, hard ball to the middle of the box. He doesn’t even take a touch before he sends in the dangerous ball.
And the best part. Cole Bassett makes a perfect run to get onto this ball. Not only does he hustle into the box from his spot in the midfield, he always intended to end up where he did. This wasn’t one of those plays where the ball happens to go right into the players run and he was in the right place at the right time. If you watch Bassett, he hesitates once he gets into the box because he knows where the ball is going and doesn’t want to get there too soon. He gets into the box, slows down, then makes a five-yard break to the spot just in time to get on the ball. From there, it is a good finish to slot the ball into the back of the net on the first touch. Good way to open your account for your career.
Rapids take the lead 2-1 (84’)
Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties during this part of the match, so the goal didn’t make it to the TV screen, but it came off a corner. Acosta sent in a good ball to the back post where Smith met it and headed it home. It proved to the be the game winner as the Rapids got to play spoiler on Dallas’ hope to get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Is there actually hope? What do we do with Bassett?
Over the past few games, the Rapids have had nothing to play for table-wise, so Cole Bassett has gotten a lot of playing time. As a result, he has impressed me more than Johan Blomberg or Nana Boateng ever did this season. Does this mean that Bassett gets more playing time next year? Will that make him a consistent starter? My hope is no.
Yes, I have been impressed by Bassett. Yes, I think he is going to be a really good midfielder for this team for years to come, but I don’t want him to be a starter yet. He is 17, and he has a few months of professional experience. Suddenly giving him 25+ starts and thousands of minutes could be bad for him. We don’t know if he can handle that kind of a workload yet.
My ideal role for him is the role that Blomberg played this year. He wouldn’t be a starter, but would be the guy that fills in for injuries, national team absences, and mid-week/cup games. That would still give him plenty of minutes, but without fatigue, as he grows into the professional game.
Sadly, that makes me think we need another center midfielder because I really don’t see Boateng or Blomberg as good options. A Serna/Acosta combo system as the 8’s would probably be the best considering the current roster, but I would still like to see better than that.
Could there be hope for 2019?
The Rapids closed the year by taking seven points in their last three games. Does that give us hope for next year? I would think that depends on the winter signings and the coaching.
First, we need offense. If the Rapids sign two forwards and a number 10, I’ll start to get excited. If there are good threats going forward, I think the midfield and defense (when healthy) are both serviceable enough to be fairly competitive.
Second, coaching needs to improve. How many goals were let in this year due to poor decision-making and ball watching? That needs to be coached out of these players. If it somehow is, that could go a long way next year. Maybe a full off-season with the coaches and players could help for that.
What are you looking forward to for next year? Let us know in the comments below!