After leading at two different times, the Colorado Rapids ended up falling to Orlando City by a score of 4-3 on Saturday. The result meant that the Rapids must continue their quest for their first win, but in the meantime, let’s take a look at this game.
Rapids go up 1-0 early (9’)
This goal starts with Nicolas Mezquida getting the ball in a bunch of space in front of the Orlando backline. He starts by running right at the defense and eventually plays the ball to an overlapping Dillon Serna. Seeing as Orlando was playing a back three, going wide is typically a good call because there is either not going to be a defender there, or an outside mid who has recovered may not exactly be the best at the whole defense thing.
Serna shows that his man isn’t the most defensively adept by burning him with only one touch. After cutting inside, Serna plays a really clever chip into Kei Kamara. Kamara is able to get onto the bounce after the ball is knocked down and we had our first goal.
Orlando ties it up 1-1 (31’)
This goal comes off of a relatively simple cross. The problem is that the ball goes up and Nani is able to drift off his defender toward the back post. All of the Rapids players take a bad line on the ball, but nobody picks up Nani. This leaves him wide open to knock the cross into the goal. Overall, not very good defending by the Rapids backline.
Orlando gets a quick second 2-1 (33’)
This is another poor job by the Rapids backline. The play starts with Orlando breaking through down the wing. The Rapids do a decent job of emergency defending by forcing the cross and getting a foot on it. Sadly, you would like to see a better clearance here, but the play goes on.
After Orlando is able to get onto the ball, the Rapids make the killer mistake. Nobody stays in the middle. You can watch all the Rapids players basically clear out from the PK spot. When the shot comes in far post, Tim Howard has to do whatever we can to get the ball away, and that means parrying it to the middle (basically the reason you shoot far post there). Since nobody in white is there, it becomes a pretty easy cleanup for Orlando.
Rapids battle back 2-2 (61’)
A lethal counter attack results in Mezquida's first goal with the club!— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) April 7, 2019
What a goal, now let's find a winner!! pic.twitter.com/3jgHWkojUa
This move starts with Kellyn Acosta completely turning an Orlando defender out of his shoes. (Just sayin’.) From there, he drives the ball forward, and he plays Cole Bassett out wide. Remember when I said attack a back three by going wide? Well, it worked here.
Bassett forces the left CB to come out and close him down. Kamara then flashes across to the front post, taking the middle CB with him. That leaves only one defender left. Notice when the ball comes in, the Rapids have turned it into a 3v1 in the back half of the box. If you are outnumbered in the box on defense, it isn’t normally a good sign. Ultimately Bassett hits a good ball and Mezquida is able to put it home.
You could certainly say this was one of the better goals the Rapids have scored this year as far as building from the back, attacking a defense’s weak point, making smart runs, and playing the final ball.
Rapids retake the lead 3-2 (71’)
COLE. BASSETT.— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) April 7, 2019
Chop it back + clinical finish with the left foot.
LET'S FINISH THIS! pic.twitter.com/gOQLKFMXOP
I’m not going to say much because this goal deserves to just be watched. Basically, the Rapids penetrate the defense and do exactly what they should do, play it wide. From here Bassett makes a brilliant cutback and adds in a solid finish. Great goal.
Orlando ties it up, again. 3-3 (81’)
The video starts after it happens, but Nani gets this ball from a throw-in. That is not good. The Rapids need to do a better job of not letting Orlando’s best player get the ball at the top of the box directly off a throw-in. Even more so, the Rapids should have been better at closing him down.
Instead, Nani is able to do a clever clip into the box. Here Axel Sjoberg tries to commit, but he cannot get to the ball and make the clearance. Instead, the ball is flicked on and Orlando is in. From here, it is a pretty good finish to beat Howard.
Orlando breaks our hearts. 4-3 (89’)
This goal was a PK off a handball in the box from Sjoberg. Nothing to really break down here.
Oh, how the ref can change a game...
If you want my honest opinion, Nani should never have been on the field to even score the game-winning goal or be a part of the buildup on the third one. Before either of those goals, He got into an altercation with Kellyn Acosta over what he thinks should have been a foul. (Side note, you can tell it wasn’t because physics would make him fall the way he did if he was pushed from behind.) He ends up trying to hit Acosta with his head not once but twice. Acosta is able to dodge both, but that still doesn’t take away the intention. This should have been a red. No question. There have been reds given out for less, and even if you only want to give a yellow since he missed (which I would disagree with) he still did it twice. The fact that the referee didn’t even want to go look at VAR is a major mistake to me.
Having Orlando play with ten men, and missing their best offensive player could have really changed the game and kept the Rapids on top.
Another instance was the handball call on Sjoberg. Personally, I agree with the call, but I have definitely seen refs not call that before. Bottom line, there is no denying those were two major calls that changed the game, and a different referee could have been the difference Saturday.
75 minutes of success
Over the course of the game, I felt like the Rapids were the better team for 75 minutes. The only time that they were not was during the few minutes that Orlando got their first and second goals, and then the last ten minutes of the game. I would even say that the Rapids were the better team overall, but the scoresheet doesn’t care.
Either way, this has to be somewhat of a moral victory right? Not to say that we should be looking for moral victories in May, but I need something.
The Rapids trotted out a 4-2-3-1 instead of their typical 4-4-2 this week. If you wanted my guess, I would think it was due to the fact that the 4-4-2 got smoked in Houston, and they know Orlando was going to play a back three. Having the 4-2-3-1 adds a little width, and we should all know how to attack a back three by now. Overall, I felt like it played pretty well considering Mezquida and Bassett had to slot in as the wide midfielders. Hudson seemed to adjust to this by having them both play a little more narrow than a typical 4-2-3-1 and having the outside backs fly forward as usual.
The only qualm I had was with the substitutions. If you were wanting to take Serna out of the back, why not slide him up to the wing where he is comfortable instead of taking him out of the game. Why not bring in Nicholson, another wide player, sooner. Finally, why sub in Andre Shinyashiki as a 10?
The looming Bassett problem
After the last few games, there is no denying that Cole Bassett belongs on the field for Colorado. I don’t care where he plays in the midfield, he belongs. The only issue is going to be that he is still a teenager and this is his first real professional season. For that reason, I don’t think he can play every week and not start to suffer from fatigue by the second half of the season. It will be interesting to see how the Rapids manage him this year.
Any other thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section!