The Colorado Rapids dropped another game Saturday night by a score of 3-0, which means that their losing streak is now seven games in a row. Sadly, the Rapids having two seven-game losing streaks ties a record for the post-shootout era of the MLS. If they lose next week to Minnesota, they would become the first team ever in the post-shootout era with two eight-game losing streaks. This team is not good.
Before we jump into the goals, I want to point something out about the starting lineup for LAFC.
LAFC took up the shape of a 4-2-3-1. The part I want to point out is the two holding mids in that lineup. On Saturday, LAFC had Lee Nguyen and Benny Feilhaber in those positions. Both of those players naturally play as number 10s. If you needed to, you may be able to call them 8s, but they would be offensive 8s. LAFC played them as holding midfielders. Typically you would play two 6s or a 6 and a fairly defensive 8 in those slots because they cover for the back four.
The fact that they played those two in those spots basically said, “We are not even remotely scared of you scoring on us.” On top of that, LAFC was the road team. Even at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, teams are not afraid of the Rapids. At all. For perspective, LAFC did play a more defensive midfielder against both Chicago and San Jose in recent weeks. Yikes.
Okay, now to the goals.
LAFC goes up 1-0 (15’)
This goal is kind of unlucky. It starts with Jack Price not quite getting enough on the ball to clear it, so it just flicks on to the back post. At that point, its all about how it bounces. It happens to bounce right to Walker Zimmerman, and he heads it home.
If you want to get really nitpicky, Price should never try to flick a ball like that because it typically results in chaos and luck. When the defense behind him in charging to meet the ball where it is going, a flick will cause them to miss it. Unless the flick is planned, it should have the same effect on the offense, so in the end you can’t really fault him much. It is just unlucky that the ball fell to Zimmerman.
LAFC goes up 2-0 and 3-0 (42’ & 48’)
I am pairing these two together because of how similar the two runs are by Adama Diomande.
Both of these plays show some miscommunication between Axel Sjoberg and Tommy Smith.
In the first goal, there is a bad turnover in the midfield, so Nguyen is able to run at the backline unguarded. As a response, Sjoberg has to step up so that he cannot run free into a shooting area. When he does that, Diomande runs in behind him and Nguyen plays the ball in for a goal.
When Sjoberg steps up and Diomande makes his run, there are two options. Option 1: Smith needs to let Sjoberg know to drop off while Smith steps to Nguyen. Option 2: Smith steps up with Sjoberg, putting Diomande is offside.
What should have happened comes down to what the Rapids game plan and tactics actually are.
Once they got into halftime, the Rapids should have been able to sort out what they want to do in that situation, but there must have still been some misunderstanding because almost the exact same things happen again on the third goal. Diomande makes his run and Sjoberg steps back, allowing him to stay onside. Whether that means Sjoberg shouldn’t have dropped or Smith should have is anyone’s guess.
As bad as things are, there might have been a glimmer of hope to take away from the game.
Playing strikers actually helped.
For the last two weeks, I have been harping on the striker-sized hole in the passing maps for the Rapids. Early in the second half, the Rapids subbed on Yannick Boli and Niki Jackson while moving Shkelzen Gashi into the number 10 role, and the game changed a little.
Sure, LAFC went up 3-0, but there was no denying that the Rapids were actually getting the ball forward and in space. Boli and Jackson were able to stretch the backline and get in behind a few times. This threat made the backline drop off a little and boom, the midfield suddenly had space for the first time in forever.
Even though we didn’t score, we actually looked like we might for the first time in a while.
Give Boli a chance
I’m not gonna lie, I wasn’t really a big fan of Boli in the short time we have seen him this year. He struggled to get on the ball, and when he did, he wasn’t able to hold it (yes, Boli wasn’t given the best opportunities either). What really made me disappointed was the stupid red card he got when he finally got to see the field.
Saturday night, however, I liked Boli. His movement was sharp and clever, and he was the main man getting into dangerous positions. His touch got away from him more than once, but he also hasn’t seen the field since July, so I would expect that to sort out with reps. Bottom line, I want to see him and Jackson against Minnesota.
Acosta definitely belongs in the 8
I’ve mentioned before that Acosta should not be the 10. We need him to play the role of the 8 where he drives the ball forward and connects the defense to the offense, and he backed that up Saturday. He got to play the 8 again, and he did exactly what the 8 should be doing. He needs to be written into that spot in permanent marker until whenever he stops wearing a Rapids jersey and goes on to bigger things.
I want to see the Boli/Jackson combo in at least one of the last three games. Are there any formations or players you want to see? As always, put any other thoughts in the comments section, too.