Early gaffe proves costly as Rapids suffer setback in Portland

Timbers took advantage of a quick re-start to open floodgates in home win

For a Colorado Rapids team that has prided itself on reducing mental errors along its backline, Sunday’s 3-0 loss to the Portland Timbers was a big setback, featuring a major mental gaffe that ultimately opened the floodgates in the Rose City.

After they opened the match with several quick chances, the Rapids were caught napping by the Timbers on a quick set piece in the 12th minute, setting the stage for Sunday’s blowout. After a foul deep in the Rapids’ end, right back Marvell Wynne was walking away from the ball in the middle of the field, leaving the left side of the field free for the Timbers, and Will Johnson’s heads-up quick pass to Rodney Wallace allowed him plenty of time to deliver a perfect cross for Frédéric Piquionne‘s opening goal.

“The first one was a quick free kick, a lapse in concentration maybe from us but even so, we had guys in the box,” Rapids defender Drew Moor said post-game on Sunday. “We can’t be giving up three goals on three shots.”

OPTA Chalkboard: Rapids struggle to make use of possession, succumb to mistakes

After the opener, the Timbers mostly dominated the run of play, getting Will Johnson’s nifty score just before the half and tacking on Ryan Johnson’s 84th minute insurance tally to seal a game that had once started so brightly for Colorado.

“It affected [us] because it was a very naïve play from our end. It was just a re-start and we slept,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja said of the Timbers’ opening goal post-game on Sunday. “When you have full concentration on the game and you’re creating chances to score and then you have to be concentrated. But then you give up on a re-start, it was not even dangerous at that moment, and then you give them energy to a team that knows how to play at home.

“It was difficult at that moment for us.”

FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS, RECAP, BOX SCORE, AND MORE

The Rapids shook things up at the back for Sunday’s game, bringing center back German Mera off the bench for his first MLS start and shifting Wynne out to right back. But not even a revamped back line could solve the riddle of the Timbers’ quick and skillful strikers, leading to Colorado’s third-straight defeat and a frustrated visiting locker room at JELD-WEN Field.

“We have to accept that the effectiveness is not there for us,” Pareja said. “We get in there, we created chances, we put good soccer on the pitch, but at the end of the day, you have to score goals.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.