This picture is not just worth a thousand words, as Fred Barnard first said almost a hundred years ago.
For many Colorado Rapids supporters, a picture is worth a thousand tears.
This screenshot was captured moments after the Vancouver Whitecaps scored the decisive goal. Just before the camera turned to the bench, Rapids forward Diego Rubio earned one of the most ridiculous, foolhardy, egregious red cards in a series of red cards to add to the collection of losses accumulated by our boys in burgundy.
Why does this picture matter?
When the Rapids struggle on the pitch, we as diehards bury our heads in our hands or turn off the match or take to social media or scream at the TV—take your pick. Heck, we even threaten to quit supporting the club, and some have in earnest. Some fans have come to the point where they just cannot put themselves through another game.
Yet, this picture shows us a place that few us look when things are rough...
Who looks at the bench?
Those who put on the Rapids shirt are not automatons. They are men trying to earn a livelihood. They are men who want to win more than we want them to win. And no, they may not—and often do not, to be honest—play to our expectations.
But they are fighting a culture of losing, a (former) coach who belittles them as “a bottom group of players,” and questioning as to whether they can turn the momentum around, hearing it from the fans inside the stadium and on social media. On top of that, the entire team suffers when one person earns a red card that destroys momentum (as we’ve seen multiple times this season).
One could rightly say, “Hey, this is part of it! The moment you become a professional athlete, you get the whole package. No one promised you a smooth ride. The highs are great, the lows are terrible—but as professional athletes, at least you get to make a living at it, right?”
Right! And soccer is the sport that lives and dies on razor-thin scores. What those new to the beautiful game do not realize is that 1-0 games can be in some cases quite riveting, and in other cases quite maddening. Many times, games rise and fall on one play: a mistake by the back line, a brilliant offensive move, or a set piece that’s on the nickel or off by an inch.
The trouble with the Colorado Rapids, as epitomized by this screenshot, is that the momentum is going the opposite. Goals are coming because of the other team’s mistakes (the two goals on Friday came off penalties, Rubio’s only goal came off a Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper’s error, etc.).
The lack of discipline that exudes from carelessness, frustration, or selfishness lay at the feet of players losing the team mindset. This contributed to that photo as well. What started this was not the play of an opponent, but one of their own teammates.
We as supporters are frustrated. But notice the key word in that last sentence: “support.” There has to be a differentiation between a frustration with ownership and front office and against the support of the players on the pitch. But some have grown so callous to even this notion that anyone expressing some positivity on any level is called down. Really?
Look, we all make choices. The athletes chose to make this sport their living. We make the choice to buy tickets and merchandise to support the team. Players make foolish choices that harm the team or selfless choices that help. And we live in a country where supporters support the way they support—and we should support their support as supporters.
The picture turned many hearts in seeing the players as human beings in agony rather than burgundy puppets on our string. How do we move forward?
- Keep pressure on the Front Office and ownership. Players have left here and thrived in other situations because they have left a culture this club has developed. Pressure these people to move forward in changing the culture.
- Encourage the players publicly on social media. Superfan Joan Dobrzynski sets the tone for this. She is aware of the issues, but always supports the players as family. Berating players on social media does not help, even if it makes you feel better. Their wife and kids see these things. Just because we buy tickets or are season ticket members or are part of C38 doesn’t give us a blank check to say whatever we way.
These guys in this picture have little else to encourage them. Let’s support our club like we have been—they need it!