A 1-0 lead evaporated into another loss. It was bad, but something even worse happened. Saturday’s home match against Minnesota United could see the 2023 Colorado Rapids season on ice, just four games in.
It was a patchwork lineup for Robin Fraser with Sam Nicholson and Anthony Markanich at wingback due to hamstring injuries. Kévin Cabral was on the bench. So were Diego Rubio, Jonathan Lewis and Jack Price all coming off recent injuries.
The first half was not exciting. Michael Barrios and Nicholson were better and the Rapids passed the ball well at times. The cold weather did not helpful. Minnesota’s best look came a half hour in with Robin Lod played a great one-two into the six yard box but Lalas Abubakar made a great tackle.
Nicholson had the best look in the first half on 41 minutes. He got an off-balance touch on a cross from Darren Yapi but the shot was wide.
The second half is where the match came alive. Four minutes in, Cole Bassett ran down a hopeful ball from Barrios. He dribbled back and forth in the box before hitting the ball off the far post and in. Rapids were the last team still scoreless on the season but scored 319 minutes into the year.
Cole Bassett -> Post Bassett -> Goal Bassettpic.twitter.com/VozSKJbog0— Burgundy Wave (@Burgundywave) March 19, 2023
The game was downhill from there.
Minnesota answered five minutes later. In transition, Danny Wilson was called for a handball in the box with his arm outstretched. Luis Amarilla stepped up and sent William Yarbrough the wrong way to make it 1-1.
Diego Rubio subbed on for his 2023 debut along with Price as the Rapids went for it.
Wilson hit the post in the 67th minute on a crazy sequence off a corner that ended with Markanich volleying it over the bar.
Price went down on no contact after that, just seven minutes into his appearance. The Loons went in transition 3-v-2 but the Rapids defended well with an offside trap as Minnesota scored. Price was down for several minutes as the stadium went quiet. He was carried off the field and subbed.
Shellshocked, the Rapids were vulnerable. Ralph Priso gave up a tactical foul that led to a Franco Fragapane free kick on 82 minutes. Miguel Tapias got a great header on the free kick to send it top corner.
The match ended 2-1 to the visitors.
“Set pieces, it’s two goals in the last two games. We’ve been working a bit harder on them,” Loons manager Adrian Heath said postgame.
Miguel Tapias with the flick from the free kick.— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 19, 2023
The defender puts #MNUFC in front. pic.twitter.com/6QHUMPXjsz
Cole Bassett Post Bassett Goal Bassett:
The attack wasn’t enough in the first half. Bassett had a great individual moment to try and wake the attack up. It was his first first team goal in league play since his trip to the Netherlands. He hit a lot of posts in 2021. He was both Post and Goal Bassett on that play.
“There’s too many times where we’re not being ruthless enough, going 1-v-1, and just burying your chances. You need that as attackers. That’s why you get paid the big bucks,” Bassett said, reflecting on how his goal was not enough.
A Very Bad 36 Minutes:
After the Bassett goal, everything went pear-shaped, with season-defining potential. The Rapids haven’t shown a consistent way of breaking down opponents and getting scoring chances. They continue to make little mistakes that get punished.
One point from four games. Most teams in MLS don’t start that bad and make the playoffs.
“We’re close in a lot of areas but in a way that’s us right now. We have really good moments then we have bad moments. Right now our bad moments are overcoming our good moments. I’d use the word consistency. We are trying to get to a point where we are consistently having good moments and good moments on top of good moments. That level of consistency is something we need,” Fraser told Burgundy Wave.
What This Team Looks Like Without Price:
In short, really bad. If Price is out for any significant amount of time, it’s an easy argument this team won’t make the playoffs. Without Price last year, their 0.93 PPG would contend for the Wooden Spoon. With a healthy Price, they were comfortably a playoff team. If it’s an ACL, Achilles, or something of the sort, this writer doesn’t think this team will make the playoffs. Feeling like the season could be over just four games in is bitterly disappointing.
“Just by the looks of it, it didn’t look good. And the way that he reacted, that does hurt you as a team. You have to be able to deal with those things. If some of your best players, guys have to respond,” Bassett told Burgundy Wave post game.
Fraser said that nothing was definitive with no scans done, but that it does not look good.
Rapids PPG w/ Jack Price: 1.47— Joseph Samelson (@jspsam) September 26, 2022
Rapids PPG w/o Jack Price: 0.93
1.47 points per game, over the course of the entire season, would currently put the Rapids in contention for a home playoff game in the Western Conference.
This is horrible to see. Jack Price has to be carried off the pitch. #Rapids96 pic.twitter.com/HNAxepNbCk— Brendan Ploen (@BrendanPloen) March 19, 2023