In the words of the great Van Halen:
Come on baby, finish what you started
That ain’t no way to treat the brokenhearted
I need some sympathy
Along with Mountain Roads, Take Me Home, this song could well serve as the anthem for the 2018 Colorado Rapids.
Once again, the Rapids left points on the pitch. After a convincing win last Saturday against the Philadelphia Union, Rapids fans hoped that the issues finishing out games were out of their system.
Not so fast, my friend.
To be fair to FC Dallas, they find a way to grind out results. Along with New York City FC, they are the only team to still have a ‘zero’ in the loss column (1-0-3), and every Colorado supporter knows how formidable they are at home.
Yet, in this case, the Burgundy Boys had the Hoops right where they wanted them. For 75 minutes they played aggressive, attacking soccer. But those last fifteen minutes? A case could be made that (other than the Union win), the Rapids have dropped five points in four games:
- The late free-kick goal in extra time against the New England Revolution, ending in a 2-1 loss (1 point lost, since they were tied before losing).
- The surrendering of a two-goal lead very late against Sporting Kansas City, ending in a 2-2 draw (2 points lost, since they were in the lead).
- The failure to mark Colman in the 89th minute, conceding a 1-0 lead to FC Dallas (that’s 2 points lost, again, since they were in the lead).
Each of these losses were in the 80-plus minutes or in extra time. And each came about not by great plays from the opposition, but from a lack of focus in trying to close out games.
How Do We Process This?
Going back to the opening ‘song,’ the late game issues make me think of the line: “That ain’t no way to treat the brokenhearted.” The game against the Union was a rare game for Rapids supporters—our Boys had everything in hand.
This particular Rapids fan had a particular way to process:
(1) Yes! The Rapids score!
(2) Yes! They hold the lead for 25 minutes.
(3) No! They give up another late equalizer!
(4) Come on, find a way to get your three points back!
(5) Match ends! Gutted!
(6) Try to find perspective—go back and forth! (Argh, no 3 points, but yes, we still got 1 point).
Besides the late-game focus issues, what other takeaways do we have?
1. Dillon Serna is a better option to start at this point than Kip Colvey. I along with everyone else in Burgundy Nation who was surprised that Colvey started over Serna. To a degree, I understand the move. The season is long and our guys need to stay fresh for the long haul. Plus, Hudson needs to see how his players play in a real game, not simply practices or scrimmages.
But in this regard, Serna came in for Marlon Hairston in the 62nd minute last week when Hairston went down for an injury and—not surprisingly for Rapids supporters—gave an immediate spark, applying pace and pressure to the Union defense. Maybe Hudson saw enough to see what Serna provides, and now Colvey got his shot.
2. Dominique Badji and Joe Mason have found a chemistry. With Yannick Boli in the picture, unless Hudson decides to go to a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3, one of those men obviously (see? I can do math) will not start. But for now, four goals for Badji and two goals for Mason in four games set the table for a potential tandem that could bag over 20 goals in 2018. How many Rapids supporters are used to this embarrassment of frontline riches? It’s a nice problem to have!
3. Please don’t bunker down at the end of games. Keep up the attack! The FC Dallas game is in the rearview mirror. Up next? Toronto FC. Again. This marks the third time the Rapids and the Reds have played each other in 2018. This time, however, it’s an actual MLS regular season match. Against this potent offense, will the Rapids park the bus, take a defensive approach, and hope for a 0-0 result?
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand (mind?), a 0-0 result would give the Rapids a point against a tough opponent. On the other hand, seeing the Rapids play the equivalent of a prevent defense from American football left points on the pitch. Why not go for it? Why not run those Reds into the ground and use the altitude to their advantage?
In truth, obtaining a point on the road at FC Dallas is a good thing. If FC Dallas has scored first, and the Rapids had equalized late, that point would feel good to Rapids supporters. But of course, a point when three were all but in the bag does not feel as good. We need to see a full 90!