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#SKCvCOL: Breaking down the key plays

The Rapids kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a comeback win Saturday night.

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Sporting Kansas City Peter G. Aiken

The Colorado Rapids came into their game on Saturday night against Sporting Kansas City needing three points to have any chance at making the playoffs. When they went down 2-0 in the first 15 minutes, things didn’t look good. A timely red and some fighting spirit, however, was enough to get the Rapids back on the right side of a 3-2 scoreline. Here is how it happened:

SKC takes a 1-0 lead (3’)

While the ending of this goal is a little unlucky, it starts with very poor defending. At the beginning of the video, we see a ball played into acres of space to Graham Zusi. Right as the ball is played, we can see that Zusi is making the run and neither Jonathan Lewis nor Sam Vines have any idea that Zusi is making the run. The two of them need to be more aware and communicate better so that Zusi can’t get that much space for such an easy ball.

Once Zusi has the ball, Vines is probably a little slow to close him down. Zusi has made a career out of his ability to serve balls in and he’s not known for being fast, so I think Vines should have been a little more aggressive. As a result, Zusi gets plenty of time to pick out his pass and send in a dangerous ball.

Ultimately, the ball gets all the way to Keegan Rosenberry and he ends up unlucky. He is able to beat Gerso Fernandes to the ball, but Gerso gets a foot on the clearance and deflects it into the goal.

Rapids give SKC another one (14’)

Not too much here besides more poor defending by the Rapids. The ball comes into the box and SKC gets a wide-open header. From there, the player heads the ball across and Tommy Smith is forced to do anything he can to try and clear the ball.

Ultimately, it ends up being just out of his reach, so it his the toe/bottom of his foot and goes into the back of the net. It’s unlucky, but he had to try or SKC would have gotten a tap in.

Rapids get one back before half time (42’)

This is just one of those plays that shows why Kei Kamara has scored 10+ goals so many times in his career. The ball comes in, he holds off the defender (who is all over him), then takes the ball off his chest and puts the bike in the back of the net. Nothing else to it. Just a fantastic play.

Rapids pull level (76’)

A lot goes well for the Rapids in this goal. Before the play, Colorado had the ball inside the box, took it back out to the right, and now we find them switching to the other side of the field. Kellyn Acosta takes the ball across the middle and plays Sam Nicholson into the corner.

Nicholson plays the ball in and the Rapids get a bit lucky that the ball bounces around and ends up and Smith’s feet. The biggest part of this play is the heads-up pass that Smith makes as he is falling down to get the ball to Diego Rubio.

From there, Rubio runs onto the ball and hits a vicious outside-of-the-foot shot right past Tim Melia, and the Rapids have a chance at the three points.

Rapids take the lead (85’)

How many times have we seen this happen this year? Jack Price plays the ball in on a set piece and Smith rises to put the header in the back of the net. There isn’t a lot to break down here, but there are two things to note.

First, the header is perfect. The reverse shot at the end of the replay shows that Smith put that ball right into the top corner. There was no way the keeper or the defender were going to be getting to that ball.

Second, Price is now the set-piece assist king. After the SKC game, he has more assists from set pieces this year (10) than any other player in MLS history. Hats off to that guy.

Other Thoughts

Still a chance at playoffs

As of right now, the Rapids are not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, but chances are slim. They will need to win their last two games to get at least 45 points with only one of FC Dallas (45 points), Portland Timbers (44 points), and San Jose Earthquakes (44 points) exceeding 45 points themselves. Keep in mind that Portland and San Jose also play each other on Decision Day, so someone is getting points there.

If the Rapids can tie any of those teams, it will come down to goal differential. Right now, the Rapids are sitting at -6 while Portland and San Jose are at +1 and Dallas is at +5. With only a couple of games left, that is a lot of goals to overcome.

Every time I look at this, I think back to the fact that Hudson only got two points for the Rapids before he got fired. Two points. Even if he had gotten six points (that’s half a point per game and still completely terrible), the Rapids would be sitting one point out of the playoffs. What could have been...

Rapids did what they needed to in the end

The Rapids knew that they needed a win. They went down pretty early, but things changed when Matt Besler got the red card. After that, the Rapids did a great job to control the game and climb their way back into the match. It took a fighting spirit and professionalism to come back from 2-0 down on the road, even against 10 men.

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