Hard work on set pieces paying dividends for Colorado Rapids

Pareja sees improvement on both offensive and defensive ends following recent matches

COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- It’s become a staple at the end of Rapids practices.

At the end of most practices, the Rapids finish up by taking set pieces. And on Sunday, finally, the Rapids were able to see that work translate into tangible results.

In last week's 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium, center back Drew Moor’s 46th minute header off a Dillon Powers corner kick was enough to earn Colorado a valuable road point.

It was the Rapids’ first set piece goal of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for injury-stricken Colorado.

“We try to put a lot of bodies at the back post," Moor said following the match. "We set picks for each other and try to bump into other players to try and free each other up. I was able to get free of my man and Dillon Powers played a perfect ball at the six-yard box. The goalkeeper doesn’t know if he should come or stay. He chose to stay this time. I got free and at the end of the day it was a pretty easy header.”

Perhaps more importantly, however, the Rapids rebuffed the Dynamo on each of their set piece opportunities.

In practice, the Rapids have worked on positioning on both sides of the ball. Few things frustrate the Rapids’ second-year head coach more than conceding set piece goals, which Pareja considers to be a “controllable” aspect of the game. But Pareja is starting to see the results, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

“The set piece game is getting better,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com this week. “Always, defensively, we’re more concentrated on the job. We are aggressive and we have to continue in that part because it’s a big, big part of MLS. You say that about every league but in this league especially, you can make a difference out of set pieces.”

Watch: Shane O'Neill heads in corner kick at training on May 2, 2013.

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.