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Part Recap, Part Reflection: Colorado Rapids lose to the New York Red Bulls 2 to 1

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The Rapids extend their losing streak to four games in a row.

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While I typically try to stick to the facts and the quotes of the game, I’ll be honest - last night was tough. (That’s partially why this recap is so much later than usual.) I thought the recaps last season were difficult to put together, because there are only so many ways to say “they lost”, but the games this year are kind of heartbreaking.

Last night at the post-game press conference Anthony Hudson said: “With the scenario we’re in at the moment, I don’t know too many teams who have been on a run like this and yet have been in every game and been strong in every game. Normally, that doesn’t happen. Normally, you get hammered when you’re on a run like this, but we’ve been in every game. We’ve played well and we’re playing good football.”

I mostly agree with him, and that’s why games like last night are so hard to swallow.

Dominique Badji pulled his hamstring during warm-ups so Yannick Boli got the start, which isn’t that crazy, but wasn’t something that was planned. The New York Red Bulls caught the Rapids sleeping in the 5th minute and went up early when Bradley Wright-Phillips crossed a ball into an oncoming Daniel Royer who put it past Tim Howard. It was a lapse in focus and Hudson called it a “poor goal.”

From there, the Rapids played better. I would go so far as to say they were the better team for the rest of the game. But New York packed their guys into the box (at several points in the game, BWP was the only guy in front of the ball for them) and the Rapids weren’t able to get shots off. There were also some really good opportunities for the Rapids but no one took advantage of it or took the shot.

It felt like momentum was in our favor, though, and the Burgundy Boys were pressing and putting on pressure. It seemed like it was only a matter of time before someone scored. Luis Robles had a couple of great saves for NY, and Ismail Elfath was calling a decent game.

I actually hate blaming referees because it makes you look like a salty fan, but the last 20 minutes were terrible. Elfath waved off a thigh-to-arm handball that should have been called against NY. VR (aka Baldomero Toledo) gave the Red Bulls an offside goal to put them up 2-0. Elfath missed a potential penalty in the box on Tommy Smith. Jack Price got his 5th yellow (though you could argue it was warranted). Everything seemed to fall apart.

Despite this, despite the frustration, the Rapids didn’t give up. That’s something else we’ve seen this year - they haven’t thrown in the towel in any game.

In the 85th minute, Shkelzen Gashi took a shot and Jack McBean got the rebound and put it in to bring the score up to 2-1. After more than six minutes of stoppage time, we couldn’t get another and the Rapids got their 4th loss in a row.

Many people are starting down the path of nothing has changed and/or it’s the same old Rapids. But this is not the same club as 2015. Or 2016. Or 2017. At the end of the day, a loss is a loss, sure, but we need to stick with them a little longer. Going to NYC to take on one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference is going to be tough. But after that, the schedule lightens up a bit: Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps at home, then they go to Houston, and then come back home to play the Chicago Fire and the Seattle Sounders. The Rapids have the opportunity to get a big chunk of points. The Western Conference is pretty weak this year, and 9-11 points is both realistic and would be enough to get the Rapids back into things.

If things are still looking grim in mid-summer, then that might be a different story, but whether we like it or not, this new coach and this new squad are still figuring things out. It’s frustrating, and we’ll find out soon enough if these are just growing pains, a coaching issue, or we don’t have the right players, but we have nothing to lose by giving them a chance. (We also don’t have a choice unless you want to find a new team to root for.)

Despite the losses, the team is trying to keep their spirits high. “Of course, I’ll go home tonight and it’s horrible, but I have so much belief in this team,” Hudson said.

While many of us may be feeling overwhelmingly negative after yet another loss, I’m still seeing positives to take away from these games. And not the oh let me comb through the footage to find something good to say kind of positives. I really do believe that we have talent on this team that we have not had before. We could still find ourselves sitting at the bottom of the conference again come October, but I believe this team has what it takes to make the playoffs if it all comes together.

The problem is, that’s a big if.