The Colorado Rapids couldn’t pull a result out of the bag, losing to Real Salt Lake 3-2 in the first of two legs of the Rocky Mountain Cup. And this was one frustrating game in a long line of frustrating games. The last time the Rapids won was on October 28, 2018 against FC Dallas, the last game of the 2018 campaign.
Here are some takeaways from the match.
- Making history. With this loss, the Rapids set a record for the worst start in MLS history with a 0W-9L-2D in 11 games. At this rate, Colorado are on course to finish the season with seven points.
- Seb Anderson struggled. It was clear from the very beginning that RSL sought to go after the 16-year-old homegrown player. His foul in the 24th minute (rightly called) put the Rapids down 1-0 off a penalty. Two minutes later, the second RSL goal by Corey Baird’s trivela came again at the expense of Anderson. I’m not sure the best defender on the planet could have stopped that play from unfolding, much less anyone else on the Rapids roster.
- Sam Nicholson was a bright spot. I marveled at the pace of Nicholson and how he put pressure on the RSL backline. While many Rapids supporters are tired of looking for ports in the storm and would rather see goals in the back of the net and an ascending win column, interim manager Conor Casey has the challenge of not just finding men who can play but those who have chemistry together. Surely, this roster has some wins in them and Nicholson can provide some help.
- The referee had a bad day—but they are not to blame for the loss. The overturned red card, the missed handball, the offside call... this was not a good one for PRO, but the Rapids had their opportunities. Kei Kamara’s mishit cost the Rapids an equalizer. When a team is struggling like Colorado there can be a limited number of opportunities. If they had taken care of business, the referee’s decisions would have been a mere nuisance and a punchline. This does not absolve the referees—they need to take care of business as well.
- Jonathan Lewis and Lalas Abubakar will help the team. The goal by Kellyn Acosta happened because of the nice interplay at midfield that freed Lewis up the right wing. And Abubakar is a marked improvement in the backline (he even had a goal, though it was called back for being offside). Granted, this was only one game, so time will tell what their long-term impact might be!
- The Rapids are only one goal behind in goal differential in the RMC. They still have hope of winning the Cup. Though the Rapids still have not won in Rio Tinto, but being only a goal down makes it possible.
And yet here we are. Just two points after 11 games. Here’s hoping something clicks. And soon.