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#COLvVAN: Breakdown of key plays

New coach, but not a new result. Here is how it all went wrong.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Just two days after firing Anthony Hudson, the Colorado Rapids took on the Vancouver Whitecaps. After falling into a 2-0 hole, they were able to level it up, but they ultimately took a 3-2 loss on Friday night. Here is how it all went down.

Vancouver scores early 1-0 (17’)

The Rapids came out in a back three, which means the three CBs have to stay connected, otherwise they can be easy to expose. Here, Keegan Rosenberry gets caught out of position and Fredy Montero goes into the space he was supposed to be in. The ball gets played to him and Axel Sjoberg tries to slide and cover.

Unfortunately, Sjoberg is not known for being particularly nimble. Instead of trying to turn and run with Montero, he tries to cut off the pass. He ultimately misses, and Montero is left with the ball and all kinds of space.

Tim Howard tries to come and cut down the space, but that is a big ask at this point. As one would suspect, Montero scores.

Vancouver gets a quick second 2-0 (26’)

On this play, Sjoberg makes a big mistake. The play is not really that dangerous when Sjoberg is shepherding Montero down the wing, but for some reason, he tries a little too hard to get the ball. Sjoberg goes to ground instead of just containing Montero and he misses.

Now that Montero is in all kinds of space, he is able to pick his head up and find Lucas Venuto, who had managed to get onto the near side of Sam Vines. Venuto puts in the easy finish and the Rapids find themselves down 2-0.

When it comes to this play, Sjoberg doesn’t need to go to ground. Sliding is supposed to be a form of emergency defending when there are no other options. Sjoberg could have easily just stayed in front of Montero and not allowed him to get off the easy cross. Slowing Montero down and making it a more difficult play could have given Vines a second to get on the right side of his man as well.

Rapids get one back 2-1 (38’)

Normally I don’t say much about PKs, but this is a prime example of how to use a stutter step. If you watch the PK, you’ll see that Kei Kamara makes a stutter step right before hitting the ball, and at that moment the goalie starts to lean to his left. That is when Kamara decides to just pass the ball into the other side of the net, and it’s an easy goal. Classy PK by the Rapids leading scorer.

Rapids pull it level 2-2 (53’)

This one is more of a typical PK. Kamara picks a side, runs up, hits the side, and the goalie goes the wrong way. Tie ball game.

Vancouver wins at the death 3-2 (87’)

This goal is a mix of bad luck and flat-footedness. It starts with an attempted cross by Vancouver that is deflected by Rosenberry. Unluckily, it still goes into a danger zone in the middle of the box. Also unlucky, most of the Rapids defenders are expecting a real cross, so their feet are already moving back toward goal. This makes it so they can’t step right to the ball and Vancouver is able to get to it first.

Andy Rose takes a clever touch around the first defender and the rest are caught a little flat-footed. This makes it so they can’t step, and Rose is able to get a shot on goal. Finally, Howard is able to get something on it, but not quite enough to keep it out of the goal.

Sadly, the Rapids lose again.

Other Thoughts

The Rapids still struggled mentally, kind of

One major issue the Rapids have faced this year is mental weakness. Once they let in a goal, they have tended to let in more. This was the same case on Friday as Vancouver scored their first two goals only nine minutes apart. On top of that, the second goal came from a major mental mistake (unnecessary sliding tackling). Sadly, this has been happening all too much for the Rapids in 2019. They need more mental toughness and focus.

On the flip side, they showed some good mental toughness by battling back in this game. Sure it was two PKs, but the Rapids fought back instead of just giving up, which we have seen them do in the past. This shows a little different mentality than the Anthony Hudson days already. We’ll see if it will continue to grow into more mental toughness and focus.

Don’t put much stake in any tactics we saw

The Rapids fired Anthony Hudson on Wednesday of last week. That means that Conor Casey was only given Wednesday and Thursday to implement any ideas before the game Friday. With only two days to work with, there is only so much Casey could do to break from the system the Rapids were already working on, which meant that he probably had to keep at least the basic tactics from Hudson for this week.

This upcoming game against Real Salt Lake is where we are more likely to see what Casey has in mind for the Rapids going forward. Although, if Diego Rubio is meant to be part of those plans, we might have to wait one more game to see what Casey is really thinking.

Why did Padraig Smith wait so long?

Writing the last point got me thinking: why wait until Wednesday to fire Hudson? This meant giving Casey only two days to prepare for the game. If you knew you were going to fire him, why did Smith not do it on Monday morning? Did Smith not know if he was going to fire Hudson? If so, what changed between post-game and Wednesday?

Either way, it seemed silly to me that Hudson was fired mid-week when nothing had really changed since the beginning of the week. All it really did was make Vancouver another throwaway game before getting to actually see what Casey can do with the team.

Got any other thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section!