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Colorado Rapids Humbled in Season Opener by Defensive Lapses at Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders 4-0 Colorado Rapids

MLS: Colorado Rapids at Seattle Sounders FC
Feb 26, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; The Seattle Sounders FC celebrate a goal in the in the first half against the Colorado Rapids at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Well that did not go according to plan. On Sunday night the Colorado Rapids opened the 2023 MLS regular season at Seattle Sounders. They lost 4-0. A less than ideal lineup made things difficult. Debutants aside, all too familiar issues cost the Burgundy Boys in Puget Sound.

The match started in fifth gear. Darren Yapi and Cristian Roldan both hit the crossbar in the opening minutes. William Yarbrough and Nouhou Tolo brought the sauce on the ball. The game was open and energetic, albeit with Seattle being on the front foot.

Then the dam broke. Twenty five minutes in Jordan Morris got into space and found Cristian Roldan in space at the far post. Yarbrough saved the first header attempt but the rebound fell to Roldan who headed again to score.

“That second goal wins them the game to be honest. If we can go in at halftime only 1-0 down, we come out that second half with it all to play for. It deflated us a bit. We had spells of possession in the second half just without punishing them,” midfielder Connor Ronan told Burgundy Wave postgame.

Colorado absorbed pressure and gradually grew into the game. They slowed down and possessed better. That progress and confidence were shattered at the end of the half. Seattle got in transition with Alex Gersbach again out of position. Abubakar cleared the first cross to Nicolás Lodeiro. Lodeiro sent the ball back into the box. It took a touch off Morris then Abubakar for Morris to then head it in.

Seattle made it 3-0 eight minutes into the half. Connor Ronan turned the ball over in the defensive half. Great passing saw a ball into the box with three defenders and Héber. Abubakar tried to clear it but sent it straight to Héber to score.

Seattle shut things down in the final 30 minutes. Colorado went for it. Yapi and Michael Barrios both had looks 1-v-1 with Stefan Frei, but the saves were made.

Morris added a goal off a corner in stoppage time to make it 4-0.

Lineups and Debuts

This was not a first choice lineup from head coach Robin Fraser. Jack Price and Kévin Cabral were both on the bench. Diego Rubio was out the a minor knee injury. As a result, the team’s passing out of the back was poor as was their defensive shape. Other than Yapi’s shot off the bar, they posed no real threat on goal for the first hour.

Gersbach, Ronan, and Andreas Maxsø all made their club debuts. Yapi got his second MLS start ever, the first being Decision Day last year at Austin. They looked like a team that had three new player and were missing their two best players.

“You can’t look at a 4-0 result and say it’s a positive game,” said Ronan.

“Once we start to gel and get to each other’s best way of playing and each other’s strengths, the positives will start to come.”

Seattle looked like a cohesive team that had been playing together for years.

Familiar Issues from 2022

Defensive mistakes compounded on all three goals. Gersbach was up field on the first two, making it easy to attack that flank. Keegan Rosenberry marked poorly on both, especially the first against Roldan. Abubakar had a chance to clear his lines on all three. On the third goal, it was three defenders vs one attacker in the box. Felt like 2022 on so many levels.

“We need to mark on crosses. It doesn’t come down to the two fullbacks. Seattle got behind us a bit too easily. In those moments we didn’t defend the crosses as well as we needed to. Teams get behind us because of actions up front, the group in the back has to deal with those better,” said Fraser.

First Game Kinks

Hopefully some of these issues were because half the back four, both on the left, played in their first game together. There’s room for growth for Maxsø and Gersbach to get familiar with each other and the style of play.

The midfield three of Ronan, Cole Bassett, and Ralph Priso had great energy, but lacked quality. The spacing was off at times. The pressing wasn’t always in sync. After the first 15 minutes, Seattle figured out how to play through them and get in behind. Plan B appeared to be the back four defending straight up. That did not work.

They were poor on the ball. As a result, Colorado struggled getting into the final third comfortably to create danger. Ronan felt the team needed to be “a bit braver” on the ball.

Until Seattle went up 3-0, Yapi was on an island. Rubio and Price should be healthy soon. The new players will settle in. Get clinical on the ball and hone the individual tactical responsibilities. The team should get much better.

Starting Lineup: Keegan Rosenberry, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar, Michael Barrios, Alex Gersbach, Connor Ronan, William Yarbrough (C), Cole Bassett, Sam Nicholson, Darren Yapi, Ralph Priso

Scoring Summary:

25’ SEA - Cristian Roldan

45’ SEA - Jordan Morris

53’ SEA - Héber

83’ SEA - Jordan Morris