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2020 Playoffs Round One #MINvCOL: Breakdown of Key Plays

The Rapids couldn’t get it done in their first playoff game since 2016

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Minnesota United FC Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Almost four years since their last playoff game, the Colorado Rapids were finally back in the postseason. Coming into the game against Minnesota United, many fans had high hopes that the Rapids could be a bit of a dark horse. Instead, we were left deflated and sad as Colorado’s season ended with a 3-0 loss. Here is a look at the goals.

Minnesota scores first against the run of play (22’)

Up until this point, the Rapids were enjoying the majority of the possession and chances in this game. This is when the game starts to go downhill and it starts with a relatively innocent throw-in.

First, I don’t really like Colorado’s spacing at the start of the play. Through their movement before the throw, Minnesota has managed to get an open throwing lane to the top of the box—where one of their best players is 1v1 against our last defender. That shouldn’t happen.

Once the ball is thrown in, Keegan Rosenberry does a good job of standing the player up and not allowing him to turn. Kevin Molino somehow manages the flick the ball through his legs and onto the run of Emanuel Reynoso. Nobody tracks Reynoso on his run, so Lalas Abubakar is forced to step out to him.

After Reynoso gets onto the ball, Molino starts to make his own run. Both Danny Wilson and Rosenberry hesitate for just a second, which allows Molino to get the step on them both. That step is all he needs to find himself open in the box when the ball rolls away from a falling Reynoso and Molino slots home the open shot.

All in all, I feel that Rosenberry got unlucky after standing Molino up, but he ultimately hesitates to track Molino’s run. Abubakar does his best to cover Reynoso and does the right thing by fouling him once he is beat.

Wilson, on the other hand, lets me down on this play. He spends much of is half floating/half running, and is behind the play almost the whole time. He could have tracked Reynoso and allowed Abubakar to play center field, but doesn’t. He starts to track Molino and then stops (which is why I think Rosenberry hesitates). Either way, he could have marked someone, but instead he just took up space where the danger wasn’t.

Minnesota doubles their lead (54’)

This is not good defending. Reynoso plays Robin Lod through to the right corner of the box. Wilson is there to cover Lod, so this really shouldn’t be that dangerous. Considering Lod is left-footed, all Wilson has to do is escort him straight down the right side. From there, Lod would have to shoot right-footed at a tight angle (William Yarbrough should be fine handling that), play a cutback (Abubakar and Rosenberry have that covered), or turn it out wide and reset the attack.

Instead, Wilson lets Lod do the one thing you cannot let him do: cut inside. By letting him cut inside, Wilson not only lets Lod onto his dominant foot, he opens up the entire far side of the goal. At that point, Lod professionally puts a shot into the far netting, and the Rapids go down 2-0.

Minnesota add one more for good measure (79’)

On this goal, the Burgundy Boys just gave up. Reynoso plays the ball out to the left and the camera angle at the start of the video shows how Jack Price and Wilson both give up on the backside. Neither player makes much of an effort to do more than jog back and Molino and Lod hang out wide open. The ball eventually comes to one of them and Molino scores his second of the night.

The game wasn’t completely out of reach at 2-0 in the 79th minute. I would have loved to see more effort to sprint back in a win-or-go-home game.

Other thoughts

It could have been better... and it could have been worse

After the game, Robin Fraser mentioned that it was a weird game because the Rapids lost by three, but it also felt like they could have won. Oddly enough, he has a point. Looking back at the game, Jonathan Lewis had a great chance early on, Younes Namli had a chance to play Diego Rubio in and didn’t, Cole Bassett had a shot cleared off the line, and so many other chances were created. On another night, I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Rapids put four or five goals away.

On the flip side, things could have been so much worse. Minnesota scored three goals, but they also hit the post on a breakaway after Namli gave the ball up, had a curler go just a few inches wide of the far post, and created all sorts of turnovers in dangerous parts of the field. Pretty much like I said in the last paragraph about the Rapids, Minnesota could have easily scored four or five goals on the night as well. In reality, one team executed, and the other didn’t.

Playoff Mentality

As we mentioned at the start, this was the first Rapids playoff game since 2016 and there are exactly zero players from the 2016 roster left on the Rapids. That means that none of the guys who played on Sunday night had Rapids playoff experience. Sure, some of them played in the playoffs with other teams, in other leagues, or in knockout games of international tournaments, but they haven’t done it as a team. Add in the number of young players on the team and it makes sense that they may not have been ready to go down a goal or two or three on the road in the playoffs.

Each time Minnesota scored, you could see the wind go out of their sails and the run of play would completely switch. Colorado would go from controlling the game to scrambling. From scoring chances to bad turnovers and emergency defending.

Going forward, it is important for Fraser and his team to take this as a learning opportunity so that they can hopefully come into next year’s playoffs with a “we’ve been here before” mentality, not all that dissimilar to what happened for Minnesota the last two years.

Next year should be better

Looking forward to next year, this is a young team. Most of the starting lineup/core should be back next year, and players like Bassett, Vines, Abubakar, Trusty, Namli, Galvan, etc. are only going to get better as they grow into the squad and spend more time together. Hopefully, next year will be a fun one.

What are your thoughts on the game? Let us know in the comments section!