I will be the first to admit that the first 30 minutes or so of the Colorado Rapids vs LA Galaxy match this past weekend were hard to watch. Dicks Sporting Goods Park was at capacity (plus some additional standing room tickets, in my understanding) and the atmosphere was electric, which made the gaping holes in the Rapids’ defense even harder to stomach. LA created some good opportunities for themselves, and when I received the update (via Twitter) moments after what appeared to be a Beckham assisted Magee goal in the 21st minute that it had been ruled a Marvell Wynne own goal, my heart sank even further. (I literally thought to myself “how am I going to write about this!?”) But then the defense tightened up and the Rapids started playing better…much better. Even after conceding a second goal at the end of the first half, it didn’t feel like it was over, and it wasn’t.
The Rapids came into the second half energized and determined and they didn’t quit until the final whistle. Omar Cummings scored an unassisted goal in the 63rd minute that was beautiful enough to be an MLS Goal of the Week nomination (shameless plug: hey, go vote for him!) and the Rapids kept the pressure on for the rest of the half. It looked like the Rapids had been offered salvation on a silver platter when they won the call on Hernandez’ take down of Andre Akpan in the box, but Cummings’ PK was deflected by Saunders and that was pretty much the game. That’s the basic rundown of the match, but the final score doesn’t reflect some really important elements of the game.
For the “downers,” the Rapids continually blow vital opportunities on set pieces, and the team and the coaching staff are aware of it; coach Oscar Pareja acknowledged this in his post-game remarks. Additionally, the Rapids proved what they were capable of in the second 50 minutes or so, which means there is no excuse for the slow start they had in this game.
For the “uppers,” aside from the slow start, the Rapids played some really good, solid football. I saw crosses and footwork and play development that I was truly impressed by. It’s really easy to get hung up on the result because we needed those 3 points, both for the sake of the table and for morale, and we didn’t get them. We did have 62.3% possession, and that’s nothing to scoff at. We had 82% pass accuracy and took 14 shots, and I’m good with that. We out-crossed, out-possessed, and out-shot the Galaxy. On paper, the Rapids were the better team. We should have won that game, and I think if we’d played the way we did in the second half for the full 90+, we would have.
After all the inconsistency we’ve seen so far this season, perhaps the most important take away from this match, for me at least, is that the Rapids showed that they DO have the heart and the determination to play the kind of football that puts fans in the stands and silverware in the cabinet, and the kind of class that makes you feel really good about your club no matter what the scoreboard says. We needed to see that. But we also need to see 3 more points on the table, and we’re going to have to fight to get them from Chivas this coming weekend. Chivas have done well on the road this season, but if the Rapids come out of the gate at full force and play the full 90 like they mean it, they’ll take three points.
(image courtesy of Getty Images)