August is shaping to be a pivotal month for the Colorado Rapids as the busy schedule features seven matches, just three at home, for Colorado to make up points in the Western Conference. However, if recent play indicates form, the Rapids are beginning to find themselves in a position to take a good amount of those points if they can click more consistently towards the end of the season.
“We’re playing some games, doing all the right things, and then one little detail we mess up on one thing, and the next thing you know, the other team scores, and now we’re playing catch up,” Gyasi Zardes told Burgundy Wave before the trip to New York.
“Sometimes that’s just soccer - you can do all the right things, but sometimes things just don’t go your way. Or, other teams, everything could be going their way – every shot they’re taking, every bounce is going their way. We’ve kept our heads down, stayed engaged, and still worked hard on the training pitch, knowing that if we keep doing the things we’re doing, the results will come.”
In addition to both some hard-luck and gritty comebacks, one such result was the recent 2-0 win at home against the LA Galaxy, in which Zardes scored his second goal in three games, and Colorado handily controlled their California rivals. “In games, like the Galaxy game, when everybody’s on, we’re dangerous, and we’re a hard team to beat. That’s why everybody must be on the same page,” the ex-Galaxy forward explains. “In our team meetings, our coaches must reiterate it, and also us players constantly remind each other as well. We’re only as good as the person beside you.”
Gyasi is also a good case in point, as the DP striker has become much more comfortable with what his role dictates and how it fits with teammates here in Colorado in finding some positive momentum leading into a difficult run of games. Whether that’s Zardes getting into spots he knows teammates like Keegan Rosenberry, Lucas Estevez, Diego Rubio, Jack Price, or Jonathan Lewis will put some nicely delivered crosses, or them playing to where they know he’ll be slotted into, Gyasi admits, “It took some time in the attacking half. Scoring is not easy.”
“As a striker, I’m trying to bait the defender and attack the open space, so it’s actually a combination of both – them getting their head up and understanding where the space is, but also me making sure I get to that free space because I tell them, ‘put it into space, and I’ll beat the defender there to have an opportunity to score. We’ve been off on a couple of crosses, but that’s why we use training sessions to dial in and understand which ball to play.”
“I have to get on the same page with the attackers and I’ll say that I’ve been utilizing every single training session to get to know the players, what they like to do, would they like the ball at their feet, into space, because those little details will transition into a goal,” Gyasi explains of how they’re all improving the chances in matches. “In a game, if I play the right ball, or vice versa if they play me, they’re starting to understand I’m a big body as well, so they can play my feet and run off me, so it’s starting to click and I hope more goals keep coming.”
It seems that nothing has come easily for Colorado as of late, it seems, and Rapids fans that lament their team’s miscues can’t argue that luck, or questionable decisions by the team in yellow, have played their part as well. “Man, we’ve been unlucky with some calls lately,” Zardes says with a big laugh and a shake of his head. “That’s just how things are going at the time. We know going into games that referees aren’t going to give us anything, so at the moment, it’s important that we score multiple goals, so we at least have that leeway.”
And that’s the thing – neither Zardes nor his Rapids teammates and coaches are making any excuses for where they sit at the table. To a man, they all know what needs to be done, are confident in each other to do just that, and expect results to go their way because of the talent on the squad.
“We have to string together a couple of wins,” Gyasi states matter-of-factly. “You get three or four wins, and you start to climb the table, so it’s important to do that. I’m confident in our team, and I’m confident that if we focus on ourselves, results will come.”