- We need a serviceable backup to Sam Vines at left back.
- We need a defensive midfielder with an edge who can shut down a true number 10 if the opponent has one.
- We need a number 9.
- We need a second CB to pair with Lalas Abubakar.
Every single one of these weaknesses was exposed against Minnesota.
First, Robin Fraser likes to say that his team is two players deep in every position, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for LB. After playing every minute this season, Sam Vines went down with an injury during the week of the playoff game.
Yes, there was Steven Beitashour, but in the post-game press conference, Fraser didn’t feel as though it was fair to ask him to play his very first minutes for the team in the playoffs after not playing for a year.
Instead, Fraser went with Kellyn Acosta at LB, a role he played at times in his younger days at FC Dallas. Overall, he played fine, but that meant that he could not be part of the usual midfield. This meant Younes Namli moved into the midfield and lost some of its defensive prowess. Trying a new lineup like this isn’t something you want to do in a playoff game.
Second, Jack Price and Cole Bassett are good players, but neither is a shutdown defensive midfielder. Without one on the field, Kevin Molino and Emanuel Reynoso were able to be the focal point of the attack. They could drop in front of the back line into pockets of space, dragging a defender out or asking Price/Bassett to drop into that space to mark.
When the other team has players like Molino and Reynoso, it is really helpful to have an Ozzie Alonso or Diego Chara or Gustav Svensson. The Rapids could use a player that is going to sit in front of the back line and cover that space when the other team has a real elite number 10.
Third, Diego Rubio struggled to play as a true number 9 during major portions of the game and players had a hard time finding him to relieve pressure when the momentum was with the Loons. Even if he has a good year next year, having him as the only option left us with no bite on the bench when we needed goals. All we could sub on were wingers.
Lastly, Danny Wilson has shown that he is not the caliber player we are looking for at left CB in order to compete for championships. He was at least partially responsible in all the goals and didn’t do much offensively.
Coming into this year, it seemed we had picked up Auston Trusty to be that guy, but Fraser never gave him significant minutes. He was injured for the playoff game, so there is a chance the Rapids still see him as an option going forward.
For those of you wondering why Auston Trusty didn't play in #MINvCOL, he sustained a neck injury during training in the days before the game and was also day-to-day, but ultimately wasn't ready to go last night #Rapids96— Abbie (Mood) Lang (@AbbieMood) November 23, 2020
Either way, it is clear that we likely won’t win trophies without improving the back four, and left CB is the weakest spot right now.
Whether it was poor injury luck, unlucky matchups, or poor game-planning, all of these weaknesses were exposed and the Rapids paid for it with a bad loss. How they deal with it this offseason could show a lot about just how ambitious they really are.