Colorado’s Long Wait For a Win

Colorado hasn’t won a game since July, but the 2015 side is much better
by Ray Marcham   |   Friday, April 10, 2015

US Soccer Federation (USSF)

To really get a sense of how long the Colorado Rapids have been struggling, there are two dates you need to remember.

The first date is July 25, 2014. That was the last time the Rapids won a match, when they defeated Chivas USA 3-0 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. That raised Colorado’s record to 8-6-6, good for 30 points and a place in the MLS Western Conference playoff spots. Goals from Nick LaBrocca, Drew Moor and Gabriel Torres sealed that win for the Rapids, and things were looking decent.

Since then, it has been a free-fall of epic proportions for the Rapids. They followed that win over the Goats with a seven-match losing streak, finishing the season by losing 12 of their last 14 games and going from dreaming of the playoffs to just barely staying above San Jose in the Western cellar.

It has even reached record proportions. The home loss to New England on Saturday stretched the Rapids’ winless streak to 18 games, matching the mark set by Real Salt Lake in 2005-06. Of course, RSL was an expansion team in those years, and they weren’t expected to do much.

How about that other date: April 12, 2014. Edson Buddle scored to give Colorado a 1-0 win at Toronto, and that’s the last time the Rapids have won on the road. That’s almost exactly a year since the last road win, and Friday’s match at FC Dallas gives the Rapids another chance to end that dubious run. While it’s still a long way from the MLS record road winless streak of 27 matches, held by the 2008-10 New York Red Bulls, it’s still plenty long at 14 matches.

That makes Friday’s game in Toyota Stadium all that more important for Colorado, beyond the usual run-of-the-mill match in April. The longer that the winless streak goes on, the tougher it’ll get to end it. As with all winless streaks, the pressure keeps building with each match to try harder to end it, and that can lead to a mistake that costs the win.

Here’s one other date you should know about: October 11, 2014. That’s the last time Colorado scored in an MLS match, and had a lead in a game, when John Neeksens scored in the 30th minute to give Colorado a 1-0 lead against Chivas USA at the StubHub Center. But the Goats came back to win 2-1, and not only did that extend the winless streak, that started a goalless streak for the Rapids that has lasted over 600 minutes.

But it’s not like the Rapids’ offense has been lacking in the attack. While they haven’t yet scored, Colorado is sixth in the league in corner kicks taken with 24 and tied for second in MLS in offside calls against with 14 (Philadelphia also has had 14 offside calls against this so far in 2015). They are 13th in shots taken with 46, but tied with New York City FC for 15th in shots on goal with 15.

One could also say that the Rapids are a bit unlucky, as in Saturday’s home loss to New England. Three times a Colorado shot hit the post, and a possible penalty after Juan Ramirez was tackled was waved off due to an offside call (Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni was ejected for arguing that call). Colorado also outshot the Revolution 17-9, had 10 corners, finished 67 percent of their passes in the final third and dominated possession in the second half. But it was New England that converted their chances, and the Rapids got their first loss of the season.

That was their first loss of 2015 because Colorado’s defense has improved greatly from 2014. The Rapids started the season with three straight scoreless draws, which isn’t good for offense but shows how much the defense has tightened up. Before the opening 0-0 draw with the Union, the last clean sheet Colorado had was that long-ago win over Chivas USA. The back line was an area the Rapids worked to improve in the offseason, bringing in Michael Harrington from Portland and getting Bobby Burling in the waiver draft to make the last four a bit deeper. That the two goals New England got on Saturday were the first given up by Colorado in 2015 (one from Juan Agudelo in the first half and a PK from Lee Nguyen in the second) is impressive. Colorado is one of five teams to have given up just two goals so far in 2015, and that is something to build on.

The upcoming schedule is not kind to Colorado to end the winless streak. After the trip to Frisco on Friday, the Rapids are home for two straight, but its Seattle and Dallas coming in for those. Then on the road for games against the Red Bulls and the Los Angeles Galaxy, then back home for San Jose. None are easy, but a breakthrough has to happen soon.

That breakthrough for Colorado may be soon. With an attack that’s hit everything but the back of the net, one of the stingiest defenses in MLS and solid goalkeeping, the ingredients are there for the Rapids to end the streak soon and finally get into the win column. This Colorado side is much better than the one that ended 2014, but still doesn’t have the results to show for that improvement. At some point, they will finally be rewarded for that improvement.

But they might get a dubious spot in the MLS record books first, and the new faces on the 2015 Rapids will forever be linked to a season-ending collapse they had nothing to do with.

What they do know is that this Colorado team is much better. The reward, a long-awaited win, will come soon enough.

Ray MARCHAM

Nationality:
USA
College:
Washington State
Club Domestic:
Portland Timbers
Club Foreign:
Arsenal
Cascadia native and a fan for as long as he can remember, Ray was brought up on the old NASL. Learned to love MLS. Wanted to play like Clive Charles. Then like Tony Adams. Only dreams, of course.
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