Colorado leaves for a three-game road trip this weekend which will go a long way in determining their position in the table coming down to decision day and the MLS Playoffs. Defender Danny Wilson says it’s probably a good thing the Colorado Rapids will stay on the road between all three East Coast matches since it keeps the squad together, focused, and able to maximize training and recovery.
It also gives them a chance to show their resolve on the road, something they were able to do last season but haven’t necessarily duplicated consistently in 2022. “We need to get back to being tough to beat on the road, and not just that, asserting ourselves and picking up points,” Danny told Burgundy Wave after training earlier this week.
It’s not just this stretch of matches against Philadelphia, Nashville, and DC United that he speaks about, but he wants to remind people of in such an important stretch. “When the fixture list comes out, I look at every single game and think we can take points from every single team we play against – this is no different going into this stretch of games. I believe in this team, and I believe we can go take points off whether that be three or one point.”
The Rapids are definitely not out of post-season contention with eight games left, but the veteran defender is honest in his assessment of the team’s play so far and how it must improve if they are to continue their season past Oct 9.
“If you were to get me to give a broad opinion of the season, I’d say that we’ve been disappointed in how we’ve played defensively, considering some of the goals we’ve given up,” says Wilson bluntly. “I think the difference when you go how defensively sound we were for large periods last season to where we are today, I think it comes down to concentration; it showed in games where we have been concentrated and have given up a few chances when we are on it the difference is you can really see it.
“Us in the back, we’re well aware of what we should be doing; having done it for so long now, I think the frustrating thing is we’ve not gotten to the level of last season regarding the number of shutouts (or) restriction of chances. This year we’ve been solid in patches but not long stretches.”
Danny re-iterates that he absolutely believes that Colorado is a quality side and that they can put themselves on a good run and be where they expect to be, both in matches and the standings. It’s not re-inventing themselves or changing drastically, but rather keeping their heads about them without distraction.
“Sometimes you go into a game, and you give up chances, but you win, and everything gets brushed under the carpet, but it feels like even the smallest of mistakes have been punished this season, and that’s been difficult for us to deal with. You look at periods of games where we’ve conceded really early, and that changes the game's dynamic and how you have to approach it,” he explains.
“This season has been very much up and down, but we’ve still given ourselves that opportunity to where we’re right on the cusp; if we put a run together, we’ll get to what we want if we’d been playing terribly for the whole season. We’d just be putting ourselves on, but we’re not,” Danny says confidently.
He continues, “You’ve seen what we can achieve in the patches we have played well. The teams we’ve beaten on the way. Where we’ve fallen down is where we’ve just shown that naivety, shown that lapse in concentration, we’ve been punished, and that can happen. It’s in our own hands at this point, and we need to keep it in our own hands.”
Simply put, according to Wilson, “We have to be concentrated for 96 minutes. It’s not 90 minutes; it’s more than that. The amount of goals in this league that get scored from 85 minutes onwards is incredible; it’s like nothing you’ve ever seen before. You see it every single week. We have to be concentrated for the full period of time that ball is in play. “
In some Rapids matches, this team looks absolutely dialed-in from back to front and it’s great to watch a dominating performance like that. Other times and Danny has seen it as well, one thing snowballs, or a handful of minutes turn the tide away from Colorado. “It’s nothing new; it’s not like you can really say, ‘aw we’ve not done this, it’s not new. Everyone has to buckle down, and when you’re on the field, be tuned in. If you’re coming on the field, you’re tuned in from the moment you come on the field. We can’t change anything we’re doing in terms of that, because we’re trying to do exactly the right things. For whatever reason it’s just not been happening for us yet.”
“The good thing about us is – we keep doing the same things, we’re convinced these things are right, and if we get these things right, we’ll get into the playoffs and go where we want to be. It’s not even like we have to humble ourselves to get that ‘hard-work ethic’ – that is always there with us. We don’t have to change anything drastically, we just need to go out there and perform. If your performance is good, generally, the results are good.”
“At this stage of the season, it’s a mental thing. Everybody should be as fit as they’re going to be, they’re going work as hard as they have, there’s nothing other than that. It’s fine-tuning knowing when you go on the field, you’re giving it all for however long you’re on that pitch. Being dialed in (mentally), knowing your responsibility is in that moment every single time. There are going to be moments you get it wrong, but if you get it wrong and the guy next to you is getting it right, it doesn’t cost you. You have to be responsible for your own performance and be responsible for the guy next to you as well. I know we’ve done that before, so I’m not concerned about that.”