Catching Up With the Rapids and Previewing Rocky Mountain Cup

Things have been a little crazy around here, so I feel like we’ve got some catching up to do. I want to do a quick recap of the first five games with my thoughts on some of the highs and lows before I get into what’s next and where we go from here.

Dillon Powers celebrates his goal

Match vs. FC Dallas on the road (1-0 Dallas)

Lows: The lowest point of the match was a very costly error by Rapids backup keeper Stew Ceus in the 11th minute; without it, the Pids could have left with a point on the table.

Highs: Rapids rookie Dillon Powers looked impressive out of the gate. The team played well. It felt like we were outplaying Dallas for much of the game, which makes the result that much more frustrating, but at the final whistle, I still felt good about our overall performance on the pitch.

Home opener vs. Philadelphia Union (1-2 Philly)

Lows: Rapids captain Pablo Mastroeni was subbed out early in the match, which not only forced a sub much earlier that I am ever comfortable with, but also raised questions about his true level of fitness. A disjointed Rapids defensive effort allowed two preventable Philadelphia goals, and it was certainly disappointing to lose the home opener.

Highs: Again, the Rapids looked pretty good on the pitch, and again, I felt pretty good about the match overall, despite the result. We dominated possession, especially in the first half, but seemed to get bogged down just short of the final third. Jamie Smith’s strike was a beauty.

Rocky Mountain Cup game one at Real Salt Lake (1-1 draw)

Lows: Matt Pickens broke his forearm less than 10 minutes into the match. Really, what more needs to be said? What is lower than that? (Excuse me while I go cry just thinking about it…)

Highs: If Matt Pickens’ injury was the low, the debut of his replacement, Rapids third-string keeper Clint Irwin, was certainly the high. I’ll be the first to admit that when Matt was taken out and this untested kid was put in his place, I thought the match was all but over; boy were we in for a surprise. Irwin showed an unexpected resolve and near perfect snap decision making. He was gritty and gutsy. (I feel like the term “beast mode” is overused, but if the shoe fits…) If his risky plays had failed, we’d all have cried that Irwin is reckless, but they didn’t.  After some of the incredible saves Irwin made, it was frustrating to see him concede to Saborio in the 80th minute for the draw, but overall, his performance was downright impressive.

Rapids supporters group Centennial 38 had an impressive showing at Rio Tinto, and although we all desperately wanted three points in the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Cup, one is better than none.

Match vs. LA Galaxy away (1-0 Los Angeles)

Lows: Mastroeni was injured early on(again), and Calderon was injured just a few minutes later; two subs were used by the 35th minute (and I can’t help but think that Pablo is becoming a liability). The lowest low of this match was when, in a move totally out of character, Drew Moor threw an elbow, hitting LA’s Sarvas in the face; Drew earned a red (and a two game suspension), and LA drew a penalty Irwin wasn’t able to stop. The 10-man squad did well holding LA to one goal for the rest of the match, but did very little to create any chances of their own. This match was definitely the low of the season thus far.

Highs: The highest high is really that the result wasn’t worse. Many analyses of the match have asserted that Clint Irwin was the sole bright point in the whole game, and while he did have a good match, I don’t think that assessment is fair. Diego Calderon’s goal line clearance of a shot past Irwin was heroic (as it should be, because the injury he sustained will leave him sidelined 4-5 months), and his replacement, Chris Klute had a really solid match.

Portland at Colorado (2-2 draw)

Lows: Honestly, it’s hard to pick out any huge lows in this match for me. Being up by two and finishing in a 2-2 draw is frustrating, being five matches in and still being winless is frustrating, but no one, terrible thing stands out at the cause of this (aside from injury, maybe).

Highs: Dillon Powers’ Goal of the Week nominated screamer from 20 yards out was the highlight of the match for me; Klute had the assist in what was the high point of another solid match for him. I found myself (unsurprisingly) impressed with Brian Mullan and his ability to nearly always be in the right place at the right time. Aside from those points, the match sort of fell flat for me; no glaring lows, few soaring highs.

The Rapids host Real Salt Lake in the second match of the Rocky Mountain Cup this weekend, and I have some major concerns. The greatest of these is how enormously depleted our roster is. Eight of our veteran starting 11 are injured; Drew Moor will miss the match on suspension for the red card he picked up against LA.

That being said, our young guys (I guess we’re trying to make “#Rapkids” stick on Twitter?) have been forced to the front lines and haven’t cracked beneath the pressure. Irwin has been stellar. Powers continues to impress. Homegrown Shane O’Neill is promising. Chris Klute seems solid. Deshorn Brown is taking shots. While it is trying to not have any wins on the board yet, watching our younger players step up is inspiring and instills confidence in the future of the club.

We played well against Salt Lake in our first meeting; I see no reason that we can’t do the same (or better!) this time. No better time to put three points on the board than when there is silverware on the line, and the Rocky Mountain Cup is very, very important silverware around here. The season is young, and I’m not too concerned yet, but I will say that if the Rapids only win two matches all season, those matches need to be this weekend and again in August against RSL.

Let’s bring that Cup home, boys! Glory, glory Colorado!

(image courtesy of Bart Young/Colorado Rapids)

About Dustyn Richardson

Managing editor and Houston Dynamo writer for Total-MLS. Fan of all Houston sports teams and Manchester United supporter. Still angry at Bud Selig for moving the Astros to the American League.