The Denver Post

Colorado still looking for playmakers

- By Brendan Ploen

It’s safe to say the Colorado Rapids are eager to move on from this past week.

After a scoreless homer opener against Sporting Kansas City, the team issued a mid-week statement condemning a “detestable” chant from that game. The team had a chance to get things right late Saturday against the San Jose Earthquake­s in the Bay Area, but fell 1- 0 on a late goal by Cristian Espinoza.

Here are three takeaways from the loss.

Formation change looked solid

Rapids head coach Robin Fraser put out a new lineup with five defenders — three center backs (Lalas Abubakar, Danny Wilson and Andreas Maxsø), plus Alex Gersbach, Bryan Acosta, Kévin Cabral and Wilson were all inserted into the lineup.

The opening 20 minutes defensivel­y looked solid as San Jose was unable to cause many chances. However, Abubakar had to leave midway through the first half with an apparent hamstring injury and was replaced by Sam Nicholson.

With San Jose controllin­g nearly 60% possession, the Rapids’ back line performed admirably as Maxsø and Wilson snuffed out many potential half- chances by the ‘Quakes, while Acosta’s physicalit­y was a welcome presence. The fiveplayer back line is a formation to build on for future road games, as the Rapids are still in search of their first road win since August.

Where are the playmakers?

It’s glaring just how much this team looks lost in the attacking third. Diego Rubio is still recovering from arthroscop­ic knee surgery, and the Rapids haven’t had any bonafide playmakers step up to create genuine scoring opportunit­ies. Even with Darren Yapi having chances, at the end of the day, the Rapids still have yet to score this season.

Potential game-changers in Cole Bassett and Connor Ronan showed little of their prowess. What was more glaring was the body language, which turned into sheer frustratio­n as the game progressed.

It’s almost as if the zero goals to start 2023 is tormenting this team. Following the game, Fraser had plenty to say on the matter.

“We need to be more positive, more bold around the box. We know that we’ve got some good attacking players, but in those moments we need to be able to take half-chances and turn them into real chances,” Fraser said.

“I think a bit of that is just our mentality. Because we certainly have good players, we have good players who score goals and lots of goals in this league. And we just need to be — make up our minds — be resolute that we’re going to be more threatenin­g.”

Be proactive to make sure play clicks

The Rapids weren’t good enough on the wing Saturday, as San Jose was able to start attacks from the space that was left when Colorado tried to counteratt­ack. Fraser said the biggest area he wanted to see improvemen­t in was ball security. As a result, it led to inconsiste­nt attacking chances when play reached the midfield, plus little support out wide. It culminated in a frustratin­g night.

For wingback Sam Nicholson, looking forward to Minnesota United next Saturday, the Rapids must find a way to play the sort of soccer he believes they are capable of.

“Early on in the season, you see slow starts. But we’re just waiting for something to click. We’re definitely building something good here, and it’s about having that final cutting edge. That’s on all of us, to be honest. … We have to play with more risk in the final third.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States