On what turned out to be a chilly evening in Commerce City, the Colorado Rapids played better than they had in a number of matches, though the only result that mattered was the scoreline: New York Red Bulls 2, Rapids 1.
The Rapids had possession 59-41%, outshot the Red Bulls 15-13, with seven on target to the Red Bulls three. Yet, the statistic that jumped out at this guy from the south stands was the number of clearances: the Red Bulls had 34 clearances (to the Rapids seven). Think of that: the Rapids put enough pressure in the final third that the Red Bulls had to clear 34 balls to hang on.
Now, this is not a Rapids supporter scratching out something positive out of nothing. Sitting in the south end seeing that goal by Red Bulls’ Daniel Royer squeeze by Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard to put the home team down 1-0, I could hear the murmuring around me, with a couple near me sneering, “Well, that’s the Rapids!”
Then those same Rapids began to possess the ball and put some significant pressure on the visitors. Yes, they were down 1-0. Yes, many supporters knew the Rapids struggled over the last four games to put the ball in the back of the net. Badji was out (yes, add another injury to the list) and thus Yannick Boli started and then Shkelzen Gashi subbed in later.
But the one who impressed me the most was Sam Nicholson. He spent the majority of his time on the pitch with a lower back strain (it seemed), but those in the stands noticed his nose for goal and his ability to slice through a defense in the final third. Those of us in Section 121 would see him on numerous occasions get the ball and keep going, and going, and going—with the Red Bulls coming late to close them down—and then shoot ten feet wide or high—but oh the journey before the shot!
Let’s assess the situation...
At first, supporters found themselves frustrated at the lack of focus and the inability to hold the lead. Over the last three games, supporters now find themselves frustrated that the Rapids fall behind early and can’t ... quite ... equalize or pull ahead.
But while the Rapids are 2-5-2 at 8 points, nestled at 11th in the Western Conference, there is not one game where they have been out of reach.
The Rapids’ need some success on a micro level, and this could have been that game. But then they went down 2-0 when the Red Bulls’ Derrick Etienne scored in the 76th minute. The linesman called him offside and he was absolutely right. But then the VAR overturned the call, and suddenly the Rapids were down 2-0. Now, I’m used to the NFL where a call can only be overturned it was obviously incorrect.
Well it seems like the AR got it right he called offside ..What I don't get is why the head official did not go to the monitor and look for himself?? @FlemingSport @Ricorick76 @Burgundywave @ColoradoRapids @wearecosoccer @jtsdad22 @C38sg @Brett_Story @jpereznavarro @nbalboa17 pic.twitter.com/KZATniASVj— Marcelo Balboa (@marcelobalboa17) May 14, 2018
Something always snakebites this team, it seems. Yet, I believe that by this summer, the Burgundy Boys will start humming and giving the supporters some hope. Once they get a taste of success, once the chemistry clicks in, this could well be a team with a cast of characters that Rapids supporters will love for years to come.
Man, I hope I’m right.