After having a number of struggles early on in games, the Colorado Rapids managed to jump out to an early lead on D.C. United on Saturday night. Sadly, Colorado ultimately fell to D.C. United by a score of 3-2, meaning that they have still not registered a regular season win in 2019. As always, let’s start with the goals.
Rapids take an early lead 1-0 (11’)
BENNNNYYYYYYYYY!!!#Rapids96 | #COLvDC pic.twitter.com/8ca5uO3P8k— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) April 14, 2019
As we saw last year, Tommy Smith can be a good weapon to have on corner kicks. Here, he is able to get onto the ball that is served up by Jack Price. The key here, however, is Benny Feilhaber. He has the positional awareness to frame the post so that when the ball goes just wide, he is there. He takes the ball down and is composed enough to not rush his shot and make sure that the ball goes into the back of the net. All in all, good set piece goal by the Rapids.
D.C. ties it up 1-1 (35’)
"It's in the net!"@LuchoAcosta94 scores his second of the season to make it 1-1. #COLvDC https://t.co/Iix5Z1LdJY— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 14, 2019
This play was obviously a designed set piece that worked exactly as D.C. had hoped. Wayne Rooney intentionally hits the ball to the back of the 18-yard box, and the Rapids don’t track the player covering the back of the box. As a result, he gets to head the ball back across the box without any pressure on him.
Once the ball goes back, the D.C. players (who know the play) are ready for the ball and get there first. Add in that Kellyn Acosta reacts quicker than Keegan Rosenberry, and we have the first goal. Basically, it starts with the Rapids not marking the target player on the set piece, and it only goes downhill from there.
D.C. takes a lead of their own (38’)
35' - #DCU equalize— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 14, 2019
38' - #DCU take the lead
Not a bad time for your first MLS goal, @ChrisDurkin0! #COLvDC https://t.co/wayf7CoduU
This is just poor defense all around, and it is capped off with a great shot. First, the midfield is beat way too easily. At the start of the play, three Rapids midfielders are standing right in front of the ball. Just a second later, one easy pass beats all three of them. The closest midfielder left is Jack Price, but he now finds himself on the wrong side of the man with the ball.
At this time, it would make sense for Smith to step to the attacker, but another D.C. United player had already started making a run. Since nobody from the midfield follows the run of Chris Durkin (the eventual goal scorer), Smith starts to move in his direction, and that makes it so that he cannot step to the pass and the player is allowed to turn.
Once he turns, he is able to pass the ball off to Durkin and the miscommunication commences. Sam Vines and Smith cannot decide who is supposed to take Durkin, and as a result, neither of them close down on him. Durkin is able to pick out the far post, and the rest is history.
And D.C. gets another 3-1 (43’)
Lucas Rodríguez wanted to get in on the action.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 14, 2019
It's 3-1 for #DCU just before the break. #COLvDC https://t.co/vLjCy4VEc9
The Rapids are not able to get into half-time without letting up one more goal. It starts with a bad bounce, and then Kofi Opare doesn’t get a good touch on the ball. This leaves the D.C. United player one-on-one with Smith, and Smith gets burned. He gets too far in front of the player, and closes off his hips, allowing for a simple cutback. When one-on-one in a situation like that, the defender should do everything he can to keep someone from going into the middle, or he should at least put him under a ton of pressure when he goes inside. Sadly, Smith basically invites him to go inside.
D.C. United finishes well takes the 3-1 lead.
Rapids pull one back 3-2 (66’)
Deep breaths, it's gonna be an exciting 20 minutes.#Rapids96 | #COLvDC pic.twitter.com/NjwM7TIELs— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) April 14, 2019
This is a relatively simple goal. Feilhaber does a good job of running into space, and Nicolas Mezquida does a good job of finding him. The space ends up being so big that Feilhaber has time to face the box and put up his cross without any real pressure.
When it comes to the cross, Feilhaber does exactly what any Rapids player should do. He figures out where Kei Kamara is going to be and sends the ball there. Lucky for the Rapids, Kamara ends up completely unmarked and he puts the ball away for the goal.
In the end, the Rapids’ comeback fell just short as what could have been the game-tying goal was cleared off of the line.
68' | FEEL THE BIRN! What a save by @StevenBirnbaum!— D.C. United (@dcunited) April 14, 2019
reemains, 2-3 DC. #DCU | #COLvDC pic.twitter.com/geTMc33rhG
The defense is not good.
Okay, this is not something new. We knew that the Rapids’ defense was not going to be great this year, but this game showed just how bad it could be. We are over a month into the season, so there is no reason that there should be big miscommunications like on the second goal. The player that has previously been dubbed the leader of the defense should not be getting burned so easily one-on-one. There should not be wide open runners on set pieces.
Add in the fact that all three goals came in the span of eight minutes and you’ll see there is a lack of focus going on, too. All that points to the fact that the Rapids are on pace to let in about 92 goals this year. For perspective, they only let in 63 last year.
Need 90 minutes of focus.
I don’t believe it is wrong to say that, for the second week in a row, the Rapids looked like the team more deserving of the win for the majority of the game. This week, you could easily argue that the Rapids were the better team for 75 minutes of the game, meaning you leave out the 15 minutes at the end of the first half when D.C. got their three goals.
It is good that the Rapids are showing that they can control a game. What needs to come is the full 90 minutes of focus. At the very least, can we focus back up after we let in one goal instead of two or three?
How much of this is on the coaches or the players is hard to tell, but something needs to change here.
Kamara needs to stay more central.
It is no secret that the main goal threat for Colorado is Kamara. It is also no secret that he is a man that does his best work in the box trying to get on the end of things and finish, so why does the system make him drift out wide so much?
In all of the games except the one against Orlando, Kamara seems to be drifting out to get the ball too often. This is likely because he is asked to play next to Rubio, so they both take turns drifting. I would like to see the system adjusted so that Rubio plays a little below Kamara and he is the one asked to drift more often, something that seems to fit him energetic play-style anyway.
Got any other thoughts? Let us know in the comments section!