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#COLvPOR Takeaway: A four-alarm fire in Commerce City—so where’s the firehose?

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A proverbial four-alarm fire is taking place in Commerce City. Can any metaphorical firehose put this out?

MLS: Portland Timbers at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Portland Timbers 3, Colorado Rapids 2. With that, the Colorado Rapids are now on a six-game losing streak, and their performance on Saturday allowed the Portland Timbers to extend their club-record winning streak to six games. A positive from that night is that Dick’s Sporting Goods Park was well-attended and C38 was in fantastic form.

Yet, the problems continue for the Rapids on the pitch. And while the Timbers are currently the class of the Western Conference, hope sprung eternal that the Rapids could stop them with some good home-cooking at altitude.

Of the three goals, the first by the Samuel Armenteros, even the most diehard Rapids supporter had to just tip the hat.

The Rapids first goal came together nicely with the cross in front of goal by Nana Boateng. Edgar Castillo outhustled the Timbers defender to make room inside the box to provide a strong cross that, at first, looked like a goal by Dominique Badji, but was actually a Timbers own goal. Badji was sliding in and would have put the ball in the back of the net either way. What gave Rapids supporters some hope was the quick response by the Rapids, along with the organized offense that equalized.

As good as Boateng’s cross was on the Rapids first goal, his giveaway on the Timbers’ second goal was maddening...

First of all, the giveaway by Boateng started a counter-attack by the Timbers that, at first, looked like would not affect the Rapids. The wide ball to the Timbers’ Sebastian Blanco allowed the Rapids defense to get set. Blanco saw Armenteros streaking far post and floated a cross—that Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard got a couple of fingertips on—but the ball stayed on track. When Howard’s hand made contact with the ball, Armenteros kept going, while the two Rapids’ defenders stopped, freeing him to gently head the ball for a 2-1 lead (37’).

After the Rapids subbed out Shkelzen Gashi for Yannick Boli and Danny Wilson for Axel Sjoberg (giving fuel to the #FreeSjoberg camp) at the half, the Timbers countered as Diego Valeri made it 3-1 away team.

As you see on this corner, Nana Boateng makes a sliding tackle in the 18 to clear. I confess, at first I thought, “Boateng did it again with a careless giveaway.” But I recant. He cleared, but that clearance was put into space that allowed the Timbers to counter. Everyone in DSGP knew, deep down, that this was a dangerous counter that would likely put the Timbers two goals ahead. Credit to Blanco in his ‘switch-field’ pass to Valeri—that was pinpoint perfect. What surprised this supporter was that Howard wasn’t as aggressive here. Would coming off his line in an attempt to snuff out the threat been the right move? A case could be made.

More on Howard later.

The penalty by Yannick Boli in extra time allowed the scoreline to look more respectable.

Boli opens up his MLS account with a gutsy, cheeky chip. If this is any indication of who Yannick Boli is, Rapids supporters should be thrilled. That’s cold-blooded.

So, to recap. Timbers goal #1—tip of the hat

Rapids goal #1—good passing and organization here

Timbers goal #2—bad giveaway, bad clearance, bad marking, bad ending

Timbers goal #3—strong counter by Timbers, Howard could have come off his line

Rapids goal #2—a chip? on a PK? for your first goal? Gutsy.

Takeaways

  1. OK, let’s touch on Howard, who should not be considered untouchable. He has made some mental errors and has at times been statuesque when pressured in a way that we did not see in 2016 or even last year. As part of a needed shake-up, should Padraig Smith and Anthony Hudson sit Howard if the current form remains (seven goals surrendered in the last two games), just to clear his head? Zac MacMath deserves a shot to provide a defensive spark.
  2. Speaking of shake-ups, Hudson needs to change tactics. We realize that his preferred tactics are a 3-5-2, but with Hairston out, Boateng is out of position on the wing. And as someone once said (not verbatim), “A fish is a fish, and shouldn’t be looked down upon because it can’t climb a tree.” But a 4-4-2 could be a feasible option in the meantime. The backline of the Rapids needs a shakeup as well. When Kortne Ford is healthy, and with Axel Sjoberg as a strong option, a Wynne-Smith-Sjoberg-Ford backline could work. But if Hudson insists on a 3-5-2, Wynne should be the odd man out.
  3. This US Open Cup at Nashville on June 6 should make Rapids supporters nervous. The Big Mo (momentum) is downward, and Nashville are no slouch. Former Rapids coach Gary Smith knows how to get his teams ready—as evident from the 2010 Rapids MLS Cup run showed. At the risk of stating the obvious, should the Rapids lose this Open Cup match—well, it’ll make the current hot, burgundy mess an all-out dumpster fire in the eyes of supporters. And then what?

Speaking of metaphors to describe the Rapids’ current form...

Tweet of the Week

Thanks to my bud and rabid Rapids supporter who drives up from Pueblo to watch the boys in burgundy, provides the metaphor of the week in a fun exchange with BW friend Rapids Rabbi:

The Rapids play Friday night at home against Vancouver Whitecaps (7:00 pm MT).

Hopefully, rather than burning oil, Hudson will be the mechanic here to fix this ol’ car.