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#SEAvCOL: Breakdown of the key plays

Let’s look at where it went wrong (and right) in the Rapids loss to the Sounders

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

After allowing two goals in the first 10 minutes, the Colorado Rapids took a 2-0 loss in Saturday night’s game against the Seattle Sounders. While it was never really a game that people expected the Rapids to win, the rough start was a little discouraging. It wasn’t all bad, however, as the Rapids did a pretty good job of holding their own the more the game went on.

Let’s start, as we always do, by taking a look at the goals:

Seattle takes a 1-0 lead (5’)

Unfortunately for the Rapids, a lot of things go wrong in the buildup to this goal. In the beginning, the boys in burgundy are tracking and passing off marks well. They force the Sounders to go all the way across the field without really going forward. Once they get to the near side, however, the Rapids get caught transitioning a little too slowly.

If you pause the play above at the 15-second mark, we can see where it starts to go wrong. First, Nicolas Mezquida and Keegan Rosenberry are trying to pinch the Sounder with the ball while their outside back, Brad Smith, makes an overlapping run. Unfortunately, the Sounder is able to get the ball through the two of them. Worse yet, he is able to split the two defenders instead of being forced to play the ball down the line where the chasing Mezquida could have run him down.

At the same time, we can see that the two players who are supposed to be supporting Rosenberry are out of position. Price, as the right-sided CM, needs to at least be nearside of his defender, and Danny Wilson should not be allowing so much space between him and his outside back. Since neither of them are close enough to fully support Rosenberry and Mezquida, the split becomes all the more effective. As a result, Smith is able to get to the endline and hit in a dangerous ball. As you hit play, also notice a relatively poor attempt to challenge Brad Smith by Wilson.

Next, Deklan Wynne has a chance to save the day. He is able to get to get into a good spot and the cross comes right at him. Sadly, the lefty ends up flubbing a clearance with his right foot and the ball goes nowhere. Since it was Wynne who got the hit on the ball, Jordan Morris is not offside as many Rapids (and myself) initially thought when the play was live.

After the failed clearance, Morris is able to apply enough pressure (and maybe get a touch) on the ball so that it starts bouncing around the box. In the end, the Sounders come out of the scrum with a goal. All in all, it is a goal that comes as a result of as many as five mistakes.

Seattle doubles the lead 2-0 (8’)

Like the first goal, this one comes a result of a number of mistakes on the Rapids’ part. First, why does nobody challenge the ball up to Morris? Wynne just keeps backing up and allows Morris to go unchallenged to knock the ball down to Raul Ruidiaz. That cannot happen if you are playing CB at even a high school level.

Next, we see a lack of communication/lack of awareness by a couple of Rapids players. Rosenberry is trying to track back from a forward run, and he does not realize that Rodriguez is making a run to split him and Wilson. By the time he sees the run and picks up the pace, he is already beat. As an outside back trying to come back on defense, I would like to see Rosenberry know that he needs to be back a little quicker.

On the flip side, Rosenberry is not all to blame. Rodriguez makes his run out of the midfield, and nobody warns Rosenberry that Rodriguez is being passed off. Looking the replay, it looks like Price should have been warning Rosenberry since he was the closest midfielder to Rodriguez, but Price never even looks in that direction until it is too late.

Finally, the defensive line drops, which is good, but Benny Feilhaber doesn’t track Ruidiaz, which is not good. This leaves Ruidiaz wide open 12 yards out and he doesn’t miss from there.

Again, I’m counting something like four mistakes that lead to this goal. From there, the Sounders coasted to their second win of the season.

Other Notes

Wilson and Wynne are cementing their spot on the depth chart

Usually, “cementing their spot” is used as a positive phrase, but this is not one of those times. Thanks to injuries and suspensions, the Rapids first four choices of CBs were forced to miss this game. As a result, number five and six on the roster were our starters, and they looked like it.

Both goals could probably have been avoided—or at least made much more difficult—had the CBs played a little better. Every time the Sounders got forward, I got nervous, and they easily could have ended up with more than two goals in the first 10 minutes on a different night. All together that means one thing: the Rapids need to get some of their defenders back, or it could be a long month.

Serna is basically Castillo, but cheaper

When the Rapids decided not to keep Edgar Castillo on the roster for 2019, a number of people were disappointed. So far, however, it is seeming like a great roster move. Through two games, Serna has stepped into the left back role and played eerily similar to his predecessor.

Serna has not been the strongest defender, but he has done a great job getting forward, providing width, and helping the offense look dangerous. Watching the game Saturday night, I could not help but notice that almost every good offensive play went through Serna. He also had a number of good looking crosses that you can tell will start to pay off with Kei Kamara in the box. Overall, Serna is fulfilling his role well, and he is cheaper and younger than Castillo.

The midfield was....confusing

When Feilhaber started as the 6 last week, I figured it was because Price was not starting. This week, however, Price was starting and Feilhaber was still at the 6. Not surprisingly, he was not at his best. With Feilhaber at the 6, Price was placed at the 8 role, and that was also not a good fit. Even though he isn’t completely defensively sound, it would certainly make more sense to play Price as a 6 where he can distribute, and that would allow Feilhaber to play an 8 where he can use his skill and better offensive prowess.

Finally, I must talk about Mezquida. In the first two games, we have seen Mezquida line up in the number 10 role. As part of that role, he is expected to get on the ball and make things happen, but he has been relatively invisible so far. This is where I think Anthony Hudson has a decision to make.

It is no secret that Mezquida is likely to be a placeholder until the Rapids get a shiny new DP for the 10 spot next year, but is he the only option we have right now? If we are moving Price back to the 6 spot, we could put Feilhaber into the 10 spot. He has played there before in his career, and he does have a knack for getting on the ball, shooting, and hitting a pass. This would allow Mezquida a chance to play the 8, which he might be better suited for. We could also get Cole Bassett a little bit of playing time at the 8, a role he performed well in at the end of last year. No matter what, it seems weird that Price was playing an 8 while Feilhaber was the 6.

Don’t freak out yet

Realistically, the Rapids were not expected to win a game in Seattle. Add in the missing CBs, and it really is not the end of the world that they lost on Saturday.

Yes, the first 10 minutes were not good, but Colorado did a much better job once they grew into the game toward the end of the first half and beyond. Most importantly, the Rapids didn’t give up. Once they let in the second goal, I started to dread what seemed like an inevitable 5-0 scoreline, but the Rapids didn’t drop their head. They kept trying and stayed in the game, keeping it at 2-0. That at least counts for something in my book.

If I am still having to talk about the Rapids keeping their heads up at 2-0 down in May, then probably won’t be a good sign.

Any other thoughts on what happened Saturday night? Let me know in the comments section below!