The Colorado Rapids went into Atlanta on Saturday night and fell by a score of 1-0, meaning that they are still without a win in 2019. To make it worse, this marks the sixth straight loss for the Rapids, and they are left with only two points in nine games. Let’s take a look at where it went wrong this time.
Atlanta scores the lone goal of the game (74’)
This whole play starts with a poor pass by the Rapids and they end up giving the ball away in their defensive third. From there, Darlington Nagbe is able to get away from Nicolas Mezquida. He then splits Sebastian Anderson and Keegan Rosenberry and makes his way to the endline.
Even in youth soccer, you are always taught to play a ball between the goalie and the back line. Although he is on a tight angle, Nagbe does a decent job of doing this. The ball he ends up playing is far enough inside of Tommy Smith that he is unable to do anything. This leaves it up to Tim Howard. You can see him step away from his post to grab the ball, but he doesn’t step toward the ball. As a result, Julian Gressel is able to slide in front of Howard and deflect the ball into the goal.
The one area where Atlanta deserves major props is in the run that Gressel makes. He starts at the far corner of the box, and he takes off almost as soon as Nagbe takes over the ball. It is only by doing this that he is able to get across Deklan Wynne and get to the near post in time for the cross from Nagbe.
The Rapids got scared of their defensive record
Coming into the game, the Rapids were on pace to have one of the worst defenses the MLS has ever seen. As a result, it looked like Anthony Hudson tried to overcompensate by starting a grand total of six defenders. Predictably, the Rapids bunkered for most of the game and hoped they could get a goal and win 1-0.
Ultimately, they had a few chances, but they were not able to put them into the back of the net. Atlanta, on the other hand, was able to put away one of their chances. That’s the risk you run when you bunker, something the 2017 Rapids knew all too well.
Worst of all, a number of Rapids were forced to play out of position. It is hard enough to play on the road. It is harder still to play a formation that you have not played in a long time. Finally, when you have natural outside backs playing as CBs, a striker playing on the wing, and a CB playing in the midfield, it is not typically going to go well. Hence, the Rapids lost.
There were no major lapses this time
For the last few weeks, the Rapids had been playing decent games until they would inevitably lose focus for ten minutes and give up multiple goals. In the end, they would lose because of the time in which they lost focus.
On Saturday, the team seemed to be pretty focused for the whole of the game. Sure, they let in a goal and lost, but they managed to avoid a stretch where they let in two or three goals. I know it isn’t much, but I needed something optimistic.
Anthony Hudson deserves to be fired
If you haven’t heard, Anthony Hudson made some bold comments in his post-game interview, which you can find here. My job, however, is not to talk about what Hudson said. It is talk about what is happening on the field.
On the field, I see a team that is far from playing to its potential. With the players the Rapids have, this is not a team that should have just two points from nine games, eight wins in the last 46 games, or be on pace to let up 90+ goals in one season.
This team was dubbed a playoff contender on paper at the beginning of the year. No, they aren’t the Red Bulls, Seattle Sounders, or Sporting Kansas City, but there is no reason this Rapids team should be in last place. In the end, that falls on the coach. It is his job to create a winning culture and get the best out of his players. Instead, good players are coming into the team and playing poorly, and players performing poorly have gone on to be pretty good at other teams. Again, this falls on the coach.
This team has two fringe national team members, and Hudson has not been able to get either to make any sort of a difference on the field.
Lastly, this team has lost to other bad teams because they lost focus during periods of time. As mentioned above, the Rapids ended up losing a few games in which they played well because they were mentally weak. They were unable to keep focus for 90 minutes and would quickly let in a second or third goal after allowing one. Realistically, that comes down to the coach. It is his job to ensure that his team is focused and mentally ready for a game.
These are pretty good reasons to say that Hudson should at least be on thin ice. Now, when you add in his comments after the game Saturday, I see no good reason to keep him. Having heard what he said, there is no reason his players or Front Office should still support him, and it might just be time for him to move on.
Have any other thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section!