View from the Booth: Not a great spectacle, but a win is a win
Not every team which graces the grass at Dick's Sporting Goods Park will leave the keys to the safe in full view. Some will turn up with their most prized possession fiercely guarded and may offer up few chances in which to pilfer the riches.
As an opposing side, you then have to adapt to the situation and do whatever it takes to bag the booty.
The Rapids' win over Toronto had the heavy-handed tactics of 'The Italian Job', rather than the intricate, meticulous unpicking of 'Ocean's Eleven'.
When Edson Buddle thundered in the late winner on Saturday, the words of Michael Caine sprang to mind in the aforementioned classic, as the van exploded: "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"
It wasn't pretty.
As a sporting occasion, it wasn't a great spectacle, and few 'highlights' will make it onto the end-of-season DVD.
But two teams took to the turf on Saturday, and Toronto had a game-plan: to sit deep, get bodies behind the ball and challenge the Rapids to find a way through the wall of white, whilst hoping five-goal striker Robert Earnshaw could steal the show at the other end.
Irwin saves Earnshaw's shot
And he very nearly did - on more than one occasion. Lapses in the Rapids defence, not often seen this season, gave the Welshman two or three decent dips on target. Thankfully, his shooting boots were mis-firing, his eye for goal a little blurred, his red-hot streak cooled by the Spring chill.
I've been critical of the team's finishing this season, in games which they've dominated and created a bagful of chances.
That wasn't the case against Toronto. Chances were few and far between.
It wasn't a game for the purists. Marcelo Balboa and I spoke during the interval of how the game would be won from a set piece, a slice of luck or an individual error. Buddle's goal, four minutes from time, fell into the latter category.
But who's complaining?
Well, it seems, a few Rapids fans.
Social networking had a sprinkling of sour-pusses Saturday night, critical of the performance, individual players and the manner of the win.
Edson Buddle scores game-winner
Two weeks ago, the side was accused of only wanting to score pretty goals under Oscar Pareja.
Now they're lambasted by doom-merchants for scoring lucky goals and winning ugly.
Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
Ask the majority of fans whether they would like to play beautiful, free-flowing, text-book soccer and lose, or fight, scrap, hustle and hassle their way to a fortunate three points.
I reckon those with their rose-tinted soccer spectacles lost behind the back of the sofa would opt for a win every time. Few will recall the manner of Saturday's victory come the end of the season. All they will note is the 1-0 score line.
You do whatever it takes to get the victory, working with what you have.
Two players stood out for me on Saturday. One of them will maybe surprise some of you.
1. Drew Moor: unruffled, he won almost every aerial battle with inch-perfect timing of the ball, whilst marshalling the defence. Leads by example.
Oscar Pareja focuses on positives
2. Atiba Harris: ask him to run into the path of an express train, and he'll do it without question. A target man, who time and again got up above the Toronto defence and flicked on the ball. Not an instinctive goal-scorer like Buddle, but a muscular menace happy to do the dirty work.
The team is acutely aware of its shortcomings. Three wins this season, all by a 1-0 score line.
Goals remain in short supply, but the end of the tunnel has the glint of just a little bit of light. Martin Rivero made his return to Dick's Sporting Goods Park, for the first time since October 27. Buddle opened his Rapids account with the deciding goal, whilst Deshorn Brown sneaked some action late on after two weeks out.
It may not be long before the Rapids can field a settled side, one where there is genuine competition for places and the squad is (almost) fully fit and firing on all cylinders.
And when they are, believe me, there'll be days when the goals will flow. Those are memorable days. There'll also be days when it's 90 minutes of dross, like watching porridge slowly congeal, yet the side somehow steals a win.
Savour those days just the same.