Can this be happening? A team which was an MLS laughingstock a scant five weeks ago with a mere two points after eleven matches. A latent offense, a sieve for a defense and—even worse—no true identity. An outgoing coach firing shots into the bow by saying the talent the Rapids possessed could not compete.
Now here we are, June 10th, and now the Rapids are one of the hottest teams in MLS, with an identity, a stout defense, an offense which knows their roles, and clearly a locker room that is connecting at a high level. All this with an interim head coach.
This win by the Rapids was different—this win was not an up-and-down the pitch sprint-fest, but a grinder. Here are a few takeaways:
- Jack Price is a quiet devastator on set pieces. His three assists in four games, along with seven goals from eleven set pieces from the team overall, keeps the defenses honest—especially when you have weapons like Kei Kamara and Tommy Smith able to elevate in the six-yard box.
- Did you hear the reason why Kei Kamara dropped back in defense? In the interview after the match, Kamara said that he had not scored a goal in a victory, so he dropped back to help preserve the win. Kamara has shown he will do whatever it takes to secure a victory. Who wouldn’t want someone like that on their team?
- At the half, interim head coach Conor Casey noted, “I thought it was a bit of a slow half for us. . . . We didn’t really hit the energy we wanted. We will work that out in the locker room.” While this game provided a different pace than the other games in this unbeaten streak, Casey’s approach can be encapsulated in one word: “Forward!” Even in a game where the Rapids were more sluggish, the forward approach, the crispness of passes, the clear plan is something that many Rapids supporters failed to see under Casey’s predecessor, Anthony Hudson.
- There were times when the Rapids were almost too unselfish. In the 84th minute, as the Rapids moved forward, Kamara had an opportunity to put a shot on frame, but made that extra pass that was too far forward and went out for a goal kick to Minnesota. Go for it! That’s team-oriented—wins!
- Playoffs? The Rapids are only four points below the playoff line (though they would need five points to bump RSL out of that spot as things currently stand). Now, the Rapids have played three more games than the Timbers, and the Timbers have been on the road all but one game, which means they will end the season playing the majority of their games at home. (So, while we all are amazed that the Rapids are ahead of the Timbers, keep that fact in mind.) The Rapids are now at 0.94 PPG, far better for sure than they were five weeks ago, but they have to keep on humming in order to make the playoffs. They have 19 games left. Can the Rapids score 30 points in that span to end the season at 45 points? If they stay on this run of form? Of course! Here’s hoping they can continue.
- Dear Rapids, please throw your best starting XI out there on Wednesday! This New Mexico United team is a formidable USL side, but the Rapids have become a formidable MLS team. Who plans on be there this Wednesday at 7 p.m.? From what I’ve seen on social media, the New Mexico supporters group will come en force.
More could be said, so I’ll ask for you to say it. What are your thoughts from Saturday’s match?