After a disappointing MLS is Back Tournament, hopes were high for the Colorado Rapids’ return to the regular season. It was a rivalry game at home against Real Salt Lake, and despite fans not being able to attend, the energy was pretty good on social media.
The first half was decent. Both teams came out hot and the Rapids went into halftime up 1-0. Sure, it was an own goal, but the build-up (Younes Namli’s pass that Jonathan Lewis let go to Diego Rubio) was nice and a goal is a goal.
But, as you all know by now, things fell apart and the Burgundy Boys ended up with an embarrassing 4-1 loss at DSGP.
Here are three things that I took away from #COLvRSL.
The Rapids aren’t winning the Rocky Mountain Cup this year
Considering they haven’t won the cup since 2015 and haven’t won a game at Rio Tinto ever, a 4-0 victory seems... unlikely. Add to that the fact that while Colorado didn’t allow for fans, Utah is, so that’s an additional home-field advantage for RSL when the clubs meet again on September 12th.
Lack of focus still an issue... but why?
We’ve heard it pretty much all year: the Rapids are great when they’re focused and terrible when they’re not.
Robin Fraser talked about it in an interview in February. During the recent MLS is Back Tournament, Jonathan Lewis said, “Today, we just switched off for a little bit, they scored their first goal on the free kick, switched on the second goal. Those little key moments, we really have to key in, focus, and focus for 90 minutes, not just for 50 or 60.”
Last week, I asked Fraser about focus and he said it was something they have been actively working on in training. So if everyone on the team knows that’s an issue, why aren’t we seeing that translate into games?
There were moments on Saturday when they couldn’t hold onto the ball if their lives depended on it. The set piece kings can’t seem to get anything going with their free kicks. Damir Kreilach’s goal was a banger, but the second goal by Maikel Chang was a misplay by William Yarbrough. Corey Baird and Justin Meram were all alone in the box when they score their goals. Granted, the last two goals were after the Rapids went to a three-man backline and maybe that’s more on Fraser’s game management, but if you let guys float around in the box completely unmarked, chances are high that they will make you pay for it.
It’s not time to throw in the towel yet
I get it—being a Rapids fan is frustrating more often than not, but I still believe that Robin Fraser knows what he’s doing and that Colorado have a decent roster. This may be a rough patch or it may be a spiral towards the bottom of the conference, but they’re not dead yet. There are no significant injuries (that we know of at least) and everyone seems relatively healthy.
It’s going to be even more difficult with the condensed schedule over the next couple of weeks, but I’m hoping they can find the same form that had them starting the season 2-0.
It’s time for the Rapids to get it together and handle their business for the next five games. We keep hearing “you’ll see a different team on [next game],” but have yet to see results. We’ve seen what this group can do, so it’s time for them to get back to it, starting with FC Dallas on Wednesday.