“It’s only the second week of the season. . . It’s only the second week of the season. . .” [repeat ad infinitum, ad nauseam]. This phrase is what I kept repeating to myself during the Colorado Rapids’ away match against the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Park on Saturday. After going down 2-0 just eight minutes into the match, the Rapids were playing catch up the whole game. While there were bright spots toward the end of the first half and much of the second half, the Burgundy Boys have much work to do.
In this edition of Rapid Fire, we will look at the pros and cons of Saturday’s match.
PRO: The Rapids kept pushing—eventually
Like a bird that used to fly in our plate glass window, the Rapids were hit by the Seattle offense that left them stunned. That bird would eventually gain his composure and do what birds do—fly away. The Rapids went down 2-0, hung on by their fingernails to make sure the Sounders did not keep up that pace, then began to develop some form. Passes which weren’t being completed (at all) were suddenly starting to take shape.
CON: The right seat on the bus
In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins notes that organizations of any stripe need to make sure they get the right seat on the bus. For the Rapids, they seemed to have the talent but everyone in the midfield seemed out of position.
For instance, Nicolas Mezquida is clearly talented, but is he really a #10? Benny Feilhaber is clearly a winner (just ask Sporting Kansas City and Los Angeles Football Club), but in this system, is Feilhaber a 6? For those of us who have watched the Rapids, Jack Price seems to fit that role better.
Kellyn Acosta did not seem as quick on the wing and was not as much of a factor as one would hope. My question is: while we clearly have talent, is the coaching staff playing these guys out of position?
PRO: Kei “Camaro”
Forward Kei Kamara is the real deal. His energy, his nose for goal, his edge—that’s what the Rapids clearly need. He has a motor (thus, the poor attempt of the turn of phrase with Kei “Camaro”). At times, it felt as if Kamara was dragging the other nine burgundy carcasses with him to keep them in the game and get one back. Given a man approaching his mid-30s, he has a lot of soccer left in the tank.
CON: Traffic cones in burgundy
Part of my job as a writer and assistant editor for the Burgundy Wave is evaluating and critiquing talent on the pitch, and I appreciate that this is how the players make a living. But it must be said: until the Rapids get Axel Sjoberg, Tommy Smith, and Kortne Ford (in any combination—all the while keeping Dillon Serna and Keegan Rosenberry at left and right back, respectively), the Rapids will find themselves behind early and often. With all due respect to Danny Wilson and Deklan Wynne, they either (1) found themselves as burgundy traffic cones or (2) out of position on too many occasions to list.
PRO: Dillon Serna at Left Back
While Rapids supporters mourned the loss of Edgar Castillo to the New England Revolution, how good has Dillon Serna been at left back? (The answer is, “Outstanding!”) He wants to push forward and is always looking up, always trying to find that forward in the box. I kept yelling, “Send it in, Dillon!”—and he would! (You’re welcome!) We saw this in the first match with that deft little touch to Acosta, who crossed it to a streaking Camaro—er Kamara—for the score against Portland the previous week. Maybe after four years, he has found his seat on the bus.
This isn’t really a ‘con,’ but something that will take time. Seattle showed what talent combined with chemistry can do. Rapids supporters tend to be a wee bit jaded given the product on the pitch over the last few years. This match looked like different players, same result (“Second verse, same as the first!”). Here’s hoping they mesh.
PROS: Our traveling supporters
CONS: Supposed professionals who make fun of traveling supporters
At around the 87th minute, Richard Fleming noted the Rapids supporters representing our squad at CenturyLink Park. So did The Athletic’s Matt Pentz:
A new recurring seasonal feature: Most pitiful visiting fan sections. I count exactly eight people wearing burgundy up in section 300. Colorado takes a strong early lead in the rankings— Matt Pentz (@mattpentz) March 10, 2019
Such an unfortunate tweet! Super Rapids supporter Joan and super announcer Richard Fleming speak for all of us:
We yelled, applauded, cheered when they came on TV. I had that warm, proud feeling too. Glad they could represent. Thanks supporters. Proud of you. ⚽️❤— Joan Dobrzynski (@JoanDobrzynski) March 10, 2019
I thought I was the only one—when I saw them, I thought, “Yes! There we go! Thanks for representing us!” I would love to go to an away match, but like many of you, if it weren’t for time, money, children (of which one is heading off to college in the fall), work, etc., etc., we would do so.
And kudos to all the supporters who do so. Be thankful it’s possible. I’d rather celebrate the positive than latch on to the negative.
But that’s just me.
Matt Pentz sought to clarify several hours later:
For what it's worth, I meant no disrespect to you and those other hearty souls who did travel. I respect the loyalty, and the cost. Had meant it as a critique of a Rapids org that couldn't inspire more to make the trip (though I realize that got lost in translation)— Matt Pentz (@mattpentz) March 11, 2019
Mr. Pentz, we have attended games in blizzards and in single digits. If you had meant to address the Rapids organization, you should have done so originally as a professional writer to make sure nothing was “lost in translation.” But you addressed us as fans. Question other things about the Rapids, but questioning our loyalty is unprofessional and, frankly, unnecessarily unkind.
What pros and cons did you see from Saturday’s match?