The Colorado Rapids once again sent the fans home with an all-too-familiar feeling as they lost to Wayne Rooney and D.C. United 3-2 on Saturday night.
The Rapids are now 0-5-2, in 11th place in the West with two points. Only the inexplicably hapless Portland Timbers pad the bottom of the Western Conference with one point (which came at the expense of—guess who—in the opening game of the season).
What can we take away from this one?
- This gives Anthony Hudson eight wins in 44 matches (including USOC and CCL). Matt Pollard, Managing Editor of Last Word on Soccer’s Rapids site, recently asked the question: How Many, If Any, Quality Wins Do Colorado Rapids Have Under Anthony Hudson? I won’t offer any spoilers, but it’s worth reading, even though Rapids’ supporters already know the answer.
- Hudson’s comments after the match, especially toward the defense, is ... well...
“We still have to do better with the goals we conceded, irrespective of the shape, irrespective of formation, we still have to defend a corner better than that. The second goal where it ricochets off of two of our players, they get a bit of luck there, but then we still have to defend that better - that has nothing to do with shape, that’s about defending better. We adjusted a few things to be a bit more positive and obviously the game dictated them when we made changes in bringing more attackers on the pitch, and they didn’t have a lot of the ball in the second half so we didn’t have to do a lot of defending so, it really was that spell in the first half that hurt us.”
He also said that it “just deflates the team when we concede a goal, we need more confidence defending, we need more confidence that if we concede a goal, we’re not going to concede another one. That’s our biggest challenge, to respond that way is not a given because it can go the other way as well, they responded well, but the reality of it is that we have to defend better.”
While the offense is better (right?), that backline and goalkeeper will continue to serve as a proverbial thorn in the side. Honestly, I’m glad to hear this critique and know that this area (1) is of concern, and (2) needs addressing. But when? But how? But who?
3. The third goal was an embarrassment. Granted, each of the goals were regrettable, but the third one especially. The turnover in the Rapids defensive end, followed by D.C. United’s Luis Rodriguez run toward the goal, shadowed by Rapids defender Tommy Smith, trailed by defender Kofi Opare (though I find no fault in Opare). So many questions from this armchair defender: why didn’t Smith tackle the ball away from Rodriguez? Why didn’t Howard come out sooner? Why were the Rapids so careless with the ball that started the counter to begin with? The Rapids have been crushed on the counter all year. That episode was not Hudson’s fault. Until the mental errors and the backline are fixed, we might as well get used to seeing numerous goals given up.
It’s worth noting that this is the fourth match that the Rapids have surrendered at least three goals. The next two matches are away: next Saturday at Chicago Fire and the following Saturday at Atlanta United.
4. But the positives on Saturday shouldn’t be overlooked. The Rapids won the possession battle (55-45%), corners (15-3), shots (20-9), and shots on goal (6-4). Yes, the Orlando City match and DC United match left many of us frustrated, but the offensive end is better. But now, Hudson is having to change the formation to help protect the backline. If the backline performed at even a mediocre level (with all due respect), we’d at least have a couple more draws.
So here we are. The Rapids played better offensively, but the result is more of the same. And will be for the foreseeable future.