Attention placed on defense after team called for four penalties in last four matches
Despite the Colorado Rapids' three-game undefeated run - which includes two straight shutouts - there's been a negative trend happening in the defensive end over the past few matches.
The Rapids have been whistled for one penalty kick in each of the last four games, each on a different player, and more than one was a call that could have gone either way.
Coach Oscar Pareja would not say if he thinks his team is being looked at more closely by the referees, but did offer this:
"If you evaluate the amount of times that we receive worse than those calls in the area, then there would be seven or eight penalties per game," Pareja told ColoradoRapids.com this week. "I'm not worried about it, but I do have to give it some attention because it's happening too often. But there have been some weak penalty calls."
The run started on March 23 when Drew Moor received a red card (and an extra match suspension) for his arm to the face of LA Galaxy midfielder Marcelo Sarvas. Mike Magee converted the penalty kick which turned out to be the game winner.
The following week, Atiba Harris was whistled for a penalty kick against Portland, which Will Johnson converted as the Timbers fought back for a 2-2 draw.
On April 6 it was Dillon Powers who was closest to Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman when he fell in the box. Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin then saved Alvaro Saborio's attempt to keep the 1-0 lead.
And last week, the referee called a penalty kick after center back Shane O'Neill made contact with Chivas USA forward Jose Correa inside the six yard box. Correa would end up hitting the crossbar with his attempt.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Irwin became the first MLS goalkeeper to face a penalty kick in each of his first three career starts and the first to face a PK in four straight matches.
In each occassion, the penalty attempt for the opponent was their first of the season. The Seattle Sounders, who visit Dick's Sporting Goods Park on Saturday (4 p.m MT), have yet to be involved in a game with a penalty for or against in 2013.
The Rapids have also been on the receiving end of two penalty kicks themselves this season, with Hendry Thomas and Deshorn Brown converting their chances against Portland and Chivas, respectively.