Defensive improvements in mind as Rapids return to MLS action

Mastroeni unhappy with the 'soft' goals conceded against Atlanta and calls for improvements

Pablo Mastroeni shouting

Photo Credit: 
Bart Young/Colorado Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo.- In Tuesday night’s wild 2-1 US Open Cup defeat to the Atlanta Silverbacks at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, four red cards were handed out, both head coaches were ejected and a 55-minute lightning delay paused the action. But rather than focus on the craziness during the match, postgame, Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni chose to focus on two defensive lapses as the primary culprit for Tuesday’s surprise defeat.

Both Atlanta goals came on over-the-top balls played into the box, frustrating Mastroeni, particularly after defensive miscues allowed FC Dallas’ Fabian Castillo to nab the game-winner against Colorado in their last MLS match on June 7th. Mastroeni and the Rapids want to clean up the back line heading into Saturday night’s home tilt against the Vancouver Whitecaps (7 p.m MT, Altitude).

“Our inability to defend what for me [are] two simple plays, two brain-dead plays, and then not be able to finish the chances that you create,” Mastroeni said after Tuesday’s defeat. “It’s evident that if you give up two soft goals and don’t score enough, you’re going to end up losing the game.”

The good news for Mastroeni is that he has defensive options, and defensive changes could be coming. They may start with left back Chris Klute, who was noticeably left off the 18-man roster for Tuesday’s match (Mastroeni fielded a strong lineup filled with first-teamers against Atlanta). Klute struggled in the Rapids’ 3-2 loss to Dallas on June 7th, and he may be on the bench for Saturday’s match after not making the starting 11 in either of the Rapids’ two US Open Cup matches.

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com