The Rapids just had three matches in eight days, but the action on the pitch doesn’t even begin to cover the tailspin Rapids fans were thrown into this week, starting with the end of a six match unbeaten streak following a rather unimpressive fall to San Jose at home on June 15th.
Colorado’s start to the match was slow and uninspired, forcing them to play catch-up the entire match, a feat which they would never achieve. Attiba Harris was shown red early in the match, further stacking the odds against the now 10-man squad. To be fair, the Rapids did fight hard through the second half, and they looked good doing it; it just wasn’t enough. Another high point was Jaime Castrillon’s return from injury and almost immediate attempt on goal.
Still down from a disheartening loss, Rapids fans woke up Monday morning to be blindsided by the news that Rapids legend Pablo Mastroeni had asked for and been given a transfer to LA Galaxy. Everyone has an opinion on it, and pretty much no one likes it. I’ve heard everything from “Pareja drove him out!” to “Welp, guess I’ll have to get rid of my season tickets,” but at the very root of the situation, Pablo wants to play, and that’s not happening here. We’ve heard over and over again how important Pablo is for the team, and that may be true as far as morale or experience, but anyone who says that he hasn’t been a liability on the pitch this season is kidding themselves; twice we were forced to make early first half subs to get him out of the match. Again, I don’t want to discount the role he has played as a mentor, a captain, and an ambassador of this club. The man is a legend. Tactically, he just doesn’t fit anymore, and it’s hard to criticize the move from that standpoint.
It’s a lot easier to criticize from the standpoint of a Burgundy-Bleeding loyalist. Drew Moor repeatedly said he was only wearing the captain’s arm band until Pablo came back to take it from him. Pablo was the real captain. Many of us didn’t think Pablo would ever come back after sitting out last season with lingering concussion symptoms; we tifo-ed for him TWICE last year, the later time as a precaution in case he unceremoniously retired after the season. Pablo IS Colorado, he’s been here for a decade! There was no question that when he did retire, realistically after this season, that it would be with the Rapids crest on his chest.
…and then he went to LA.
Adding insult to an already injured and heavy-hearted fan base, Hendry Thomas and head coach Oscar Pareja both found themselves suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee going into their midweek match against Chicago, where they were both sorely missed as Colorado put forth one of the most lackluster performances I have seen in a long time. Frankly, we looked awful. Also, Martin Rivero, only recently returned from the broken foot that left him sidelined for the start of the season, went down injured in the 55th. Imagine the collective sigh of relief when it turned out to be a quad strain.
If Rapids fans are nothing else, we are resilient. We were prepared to shake off the negativity of the days leading up to Sunday’s match against Portland and get some work done. The players seemed pumped, making it easier to get excited going into the match and then…nothing. Again, we looked awful; disorganized, even frantic at times. Our backline repeatedly fell through and Clint Irwin was off his game. Deshorn Brown created several chances, but failed to capitalize on any of them. The details of the game are shrouded in my mind by the 90 minutes of mediocrity we were forced to endure, and I just don’t get it, because I know that we’re better than that.
I don’t know what’s going on with this team. We looked like we were coming into a bout of good form. Our draws felt like wins because we played hard and smart. I saw that fighting spirit against San Jose, but the last two matches have been dismal and hard to watch. Something’s gotta give, because we have Montreal next week, and they’re top of the Eastern Conference.
It’s been a rough week, but don’t think we’re down for the count. On paper, things don’t look so bad; we’re 10 points out of first place and two draws away from a playoff position, but we’ve got to see that play out on the pitch.