View from the Booth: Converting chances has been an ongoing concern
The season for me began with the 1-1 draw at Real Salt Lake. Since then I've called the loss at LA, the draw with Portland, wins over RSL and Chivas USA, and, the most recent reversal at home to Seattle.
In the course of a match, I probably utter quite a few thousand words during commentary. It'll be a mixture of sharp insight and utter drivel.
So, in the six games covered, I'd suggest that tens of thousands of words have passed my lips in the commentary booth.
There will be well-worn soccer phrases sprinkled liberally throughout the course of each 90 minutes. I daresay the occasional cliché will get an airing, as well as lots of 'oohs' and 'aahs'.
Full Match Highlights
At no stage, though, have I been able to emit the phrase: "And Oscar Pareja has a full-strength squad to choose from."
Never. Not once.
And I reckon it could be well into the latter stages of the season that these words - or variants on this revelation - could be required.
It would be rather nice to say something like, 'Pareja is almost back to full strength.'
Sadly, even those seven simple words may not be heard for some considerable time.
Wins over Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA had given the Rapids renewed belief. Systems were working. Confidence was rising. Edson Buddle was getting minutes under his belt. Nick LaBrocca had shaken off his groin scare, whilst Anthony Wallace finally returned and both Martin Rivero and Pablo Mastroeni were back in full-contact training.
Things were, indeed, looking up.
Miss: Hill shot hits post
CRASH! Deshorn Brown injures his thigh in practice on Friday.
BANG! Buddle is pulled from the starting XI to face Seattle just minutes before kick-off after tweaking his knee in the warm-up.
WALLOP! Marvell Wynne stretches to clear the ball in the second half of the Seattle loss and damages his right quad.
Two steps forward … three steps back.
Pareja has never been one to use the injuries as an excuse for poor results, but even he’s beginning to wonder what he's done to deserve such a run of bad luck on that front.
Glancing back through the highlights of Saturday's defeat by the Sounders and - absent stars aside for a moment - the Rapids created enough opportunities to salvage at least a point from the contest.
Atiba Harris hit the bar with a header. Danny Mwanga was unable to convert the rebound six yards out.
Miss: Harris headers off crossbar
Mwanga was also inches away from converting a cross from the left.
Kamani Hill - who sent shivers down the Sounders' spines every time he ran at them - clattered his best effort against the post.
Dillon Powers drilled a shot wide of the mark after a delightful spin on the edge of the box.
And in the dying seconds, Drew Moor sent a header into the grateful arms of Michael Gspurning.
All five chances - good chances - came in the second half, but followed a first period in which the team looked lacking in energy. There appeared little attacking threat, whilst intensity levels were not those of a side on a run of three games unbeaten.
I'd suggest that the absence of Brown and the withdrawal of Buddle had something to do with that. The combined pace and power offered by those two is a huge plus. Add to that a growing understanding, and I accept that a late, unexpected shuffle of the pack may have led to what we witnessed first half, as the side struggled to put into action a hastily-assembled Plan B.
Both Chris Klute and Pareja admitted during half-time interviews that the team were not aggressive enough and lacked punch. That changed in the second half, but by which stage they were a goal down.
The fact that the Rapids are competing, despite the absence of key players, is testament to the character of those who have stepped in, and says much about depth in the squad.
Being able to field the best that the Rapids have to offer has been an issue, though there's little that can be done to hurry the healing process.
Those who’ve ably filled-in are testing teams. We know that creating chances has not been a problem. But converting those chances has been an ongoing concern and - on that score - something has to be done.