View from the Booth: Rapids need to find a way, no matter the opponent

Nobody is going to make it easy as the playoff plot takes another twist

View from Booth - Moor vs SJ

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

If the 5-1 win over Seattle Sounders was like all the best Christmas Days rolled into one, then the 1-0 loss at San Jose Earthquakes midweek was akin to the worst of all Boxing Days.

The cousins you don’t like have dropped by, and your mum has insisted you wear the knitted jumper Aunty gave you. Spoilt rotten on the one day and then – in the blink of an eye – the fun is over.

Full Match Highlights

But then we were spoilt last weekend. Everything clicked. The perfect ending to a perfect day, and maybe all our Christmas’s were wrapped up in that one moment.

Because the Rapids then struck terra firma with a bump Wednesday night following a rough ride in San Jose, and the Boxing Day blues kicked in.

The high of success over Seattle, followed by the drudgery witnessed in California.

I’ll admit it, the match was unsightly. It was scrappy. It lacked rhythm, flair or any sense of style or panache. Yes, you could even go so far as to suggest it was ugly, although beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is little more attractive in sport than a narrow, hard-fought, tension-filled victory.

There's a time for pretty soccer. Now is not necessarily that moment. If you can play sexy soccer and succeed, then all power to you. If you have to fight, scrap, pull hair and wedgy your opposition to win, then – when all’s said and done – the outcome is all that matters at this juncture.

Hey, the field at Buck Shaw Stadium is really narrow.

Oh, and San Jose are just awful to watch.

By the way, Elvis is dead.

None of the above will come as news to any of us ... hang on, Elvis is dead????

Look, we know that the field is not ideal, and that San Jose has a ‘style’ all their own, but the Quakes should not have contained too many surprises. Did we expect it to be anything other than a messy affair? There are playoff places at stake. Do what you need to do...

For the Rapids' part, the quick turnaround may have been a factor. Certainly the absence of Gabriel Torres, Deshorn Brown and Dillon Powers did them few favors.

But if we’re going to take San Jose to task over being an awful side to watch, then a glance at the stats will show that the Rapids failed to put a single shot on target in more than 93 minutes of play.

Drew Moor Double Clearance

Again, there were maybe mitigating circumstances, but far too often the Rapids were putting their laces through the ball, rather than seeking to find a burgundy jersey. And, shock-horror, the boys in blue simply collected the clearance and came straight back at them.

It was tight and congested in center field, but when you by-pass midfield with long balls out of defense, don’t be surprised when you struggle to build momentum. As a consequence, the creative spark was missing, resulting in a lack of attacking threat.

The Rapids were dragged into a brawl with San Jose - masters of muscle over maestro - and emerged with a bloodied nose on a night when brawn beat brains.

Not every team is going to lay out the best tea set and invite you in for a cozy chat, before then allowing you to leave with the family silver.

The key is being able to compete and combat all that the opposition throws at you. Adjust your style to nullify the others, as suggested by Head Coach Oscar Pareja post-game.

It’s fair to say that the Rapids missed their absentees more than San Jose missed Marvin Chavez, Victor Bernardez and Steven Lenhart. And that says a lot about the huge impact the likes of Brown and Powers have had on this Rapids side in their rookie season.

But let’s not overlook the fact that the Earthquakes are a tricky opponent at home. They’ve collected 35 of their 47 points at Buck Shaw Stadium. The Quakes have won 10 of their 16 home games, losing only once – and not since the opening weekend of the season.

And that’s now four shutouts in the past five games for San Jose, yet also a second successive road trip in which the Rapids have failed to register a goal.

Clint Irwin Stunning Save

The highlights for me were the acrobatics from both goalkeeper Clint Irwin and skipper Drew Moor.

Irwin’s save second half was world class. Unfortunately, it just so happened to concede a corner from which Chris Wondolowski notched his 10th goal of the year.

Moments earlier, Moor made two sensational goal-line clearances. Both players should be in the running for ‘Save of the Week’.

The more threatening team won on the night. Wondolowski had at least two great chances before heading past Irwin, while Alan Gordon ought to have done a lot better with up to three headers, one of which struck the upright.

And so, it’ll come down to the final two games of the season, the first of which is home to Vancouver Whitecaps on October 19th (TICKETS).

Bless this haphazard MLS schedule …

Nothing for two weeks, followed by two games in five days, and then nothing again for another 10. At a time of the season when momentum can be so important – for all teams – this nonsense of a schedule makes a mockery of the run-in.