In what was easily the most complete performance for the Colorado Rapids, our boys in burgundy prevailed over the LA Galaxy 2-1 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. An MLS team beat another MLS team—so you won’t hear anything about Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Gio Dos Santos’ absence from the Galaxy squad. The Galaxy have a deep roster and plenty of threats, even if they aren’t celebrities.
Here are my quick takeaways from my hotel room in Topeka, Kansas (i.e., Sporting Kansas City land).
1. We’re only two MLS games into his Rapids tenure (three total, counting the Boca Juniors debut), but the Front Office should be commended for their acquisition of Kellyn Acosta from FC Dallas. Seeing Dominique Badji leave the burgundy and blue saddened us all, but Acosta has shown in his three games as a Rapid that he is special. His presence on the pitch bolsters our boys noticeably and his enthusiasm for the game in the post-game pressers is quite contagious.
2. The Rapids maintained possession 59% of the match, displaying a poise and patience that was often lacking in previous matches this year. When Marlon Hairston came in for Axel Sjoberg, moving Ford to a central defender, this provided speed on both wings (Castillo on the left, Hairston on the right) and kept the Galaxy on their heels for the rest of the night. Mr. Hudson, if Hairston is healthy, he needs to be on the pitch. He has persistently provided pressure in a season where the Rapids have often parked the proverbial bus hoping for a 0-0 result.
3. I was disappointed at our Rapids after the goal by the Galaxy. Defenders Kortne Ford and Tommy Smith had a communication breakdown, followed by Smith clearing the ball poorly for an easy goal for LA. Smith proceeded to undress Ford verbally for a good minute or two. Whoever was at fault, Smith's actions toward Ford were problematic. Everyone has their particular way of addressing a situation, and I appreciate any player who plays with a passion and intensity to bring about three points, but Smith went overboard by every metric.
Why? First, his clearance set the table for the score that most of us fans could have put away. Secondly, Smith (while playing a part in that debacle) was not entirely wrong in his frustration with Ford, who could have possibly cleared it out. Thirdly, that display in front of those at DSGP and watching on Altitude and ESPN+ was not impressive nor anything to be emulated. Encourage at the time (Ford is still a young player), cool down, take your own responsibility for what happened, then coach in the locker room. Otherwise, the spotty chemistry demonstrated for the majority of the year will crumble even further. Plus, everyone on the club has had their share of ‘oopsies’ this year.
4. Not entirely game-related, but I am still puzzled at the choice to send Micheal Azira on loan to Colorado Springs. Our auspicious editor has already sounded off nicely about the move, and I have zero to add to her comments. So I’ll build on one aspect—Azira has proven himself as one of MLS-caliber talent. Yes, the Rapids won an important game against the Galaxy, but the way the season has progressed, our club needs all capable hands on deck. Azira is a man not only of MLS-caliber but of solid character. He played such a key role in the 2016 MLS Cup run—he can help now, if nothing else but in leadership. The plus for him is that he will actually see minutes on the pitch. Players gotta play, right?
5. Lastly, and personally, the Rapids seem to do better when I’m not present at the game. And, yes, I missed the game as I was visiting family in Kentucky—as I watched every fantastic second on ESPN+ (which wasn’t blacked out!). I’ll be there in the South Stands as our boys play the San Jose Earthquakes at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 7:00 pm. But I’ll try not to develop a complex. The Rapids will just have to bring me a win when I’m there.
What were your takeaways?