View from the Booth: Rapids squad brimming with character
So, another ugly win produced another stunning three points.
If only pretty things were successful, then Donald Trump would never have achieved anything!
Within minutes of the Rapids' 2-0 win at Columbus Crew, the following stats appeared online to highlight the recent run of form.
- First 5 games = 2 points.
- Last 6 games = 13 points.
Well, here's a few more:
- First 5 games = 7 goals conceded.
- Last 6 games = 2 goals conceded.
- First 5 games = 0.4pts/game.
- Last 6 games = 2.16pts/game.
In a nutshell, the Rapids' current form is the form of champions.
On top of this, Saturday's result put the Rapids on a positive goal difference for the first time this season (scored 10, conceded 9).
Highlights: COL 2, CLB 0
The corner, it seems, has been turned.
Back-to-back wins, for the first time this season. Two goals in a game for only the second time this season. A fourth shut-out of the season.
And all this, without Matt Pickens, Diego Calderon, Kevin Harbottle, Hendry Thomas (for the past two-and-a-half games), Jaime Castrillon, Marvell Wynne and Jamie Smith.
Agreed, the last two outings are unlikely to impress the judges in a beauty contest, but looks are not everything. Character is also vitally important, and once again this side showed plenty of character in the face of an awkward opponent.
Yes, another game which was not easy on the eye, but then why would it be, as the home side mixed it in midfield, making for a congested center of the park. Free-flowing soccer was never going to be the order of the day.
So, for a second successive week, the Rapids had to out-scrap and out-last their opponents, which they duly did - against a team which, until the previous week, had gone 12 home games unbeaten, stretching back to July, 2012. Only two previous Rapids sides had won inside Crew Stadium, but not since 2004.
Edson Buddle shook the home crowd after just eight minutes with his second in as many games. His power, eye for goal and strikers' instinct have been sorely lacking up to now. The Rapids' opener was against the early run of play, after Jairo Arrieta had got between Drew Moor and Clint Irwin with barely 20 seconds on the clock.
Arrieta's effort jolted the defense into life, after which they gathered their thoughts, tightened the line and allowed Columbus little joy from there on in.
A slice of good fortune produced the killer second goal. Dillon Powers drilled a shot from distance and watched as it took a wicked deflection off of Josh Williams.
Goal: Powers through traffic
A number of unsung heroes need a mention: Nathan Sturgis, Chris Klute and Brian Mullan.
All three go about their business without any fuss or fanfare. Simply put, they do their job.
And, I strongly believe, it's this work ethic which is now producing consistency and positive results.
But look around the Rapids squad, and some would say something is missing - a Designated Player (DP).
It's a grubby phrase in certain quarters, because it means spending money on a supposedly top talent - yet at what cost to the chemistry within the locker room?
There are no guarantees with a DP. Records show some are worth every cent spent on their impressive salaries. Others, quite the opposite.
When your club has one which works, the DP system is deemed a success. When your club invests in a flop, it's the perfect stick with which to beat the Front Office.
And if your club doesn't have a DP to start with, the stick is only wielded when the current squad seems to be struggling.
Granted, talk of investing in a DP was more commonplace a few weeks back. The chatter is now down to a whisper after a decent run of results.
That could change, of course, if form falters.
Columbus have one in Federico Higuain. Toronto - conquered the previous week - have two, in Danny Koevermans (sidelined since last July) and the recently acquired Matias Laba. Of the other teams tamed by the Rapids this term, Real Salt Lake have two, and Chivas USA boast one.
I know it's a topic for debate amongst fans. It's human nature to look at what others have. For the moment, I'd say, be happy with your lot. The grass is not always greener on the other side and, I daresay, there'll be a few around MLS noting the progress being made at the Rapids - a Rapids squad brimming with something that no amount of money can buy, character.
Three in a row? Watch out Earthquakes!