The Colorado Rapids had their fair share of frustrated players in the home locker room after Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat at the hands of the LA Galaxy. Yet there were still a handful who were already talking about how well the team had played by the time everyone had showered.
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That quick processing of a second straight defeat in five days is indicative of a growing confidence in the squad. The results may not be going the right way, but the style and skill of play is high and the players and coaching staff believe things will turn around if those things are maintained.
The problem for the Rapids on Wednesday was the lack of finishing. Omar Cummings tormented the Galaxy defense all night with his trademark runs, but his shooting was not quite up to snuff. Conor Casey had one golden chance in the second half on a perfect cross from Colin Clark but skied it over.
Meanwhile, Jeff Larentowicz came close a couple of times and even the center backs, Drew Moor and Julien Baudet -- who both performed excellently in containing the very dangerous Edson Buddle -- nearly got on the score sheet.
But it wasn’t to be. For all their dominance in the second half, the Rapids couldn’t come back from an opening 20 minutes or so that was controlled by the Galaxy. It was in that stretch that LA bagged the only goal of the game from Alan Gordon, who converted a free kick from Landon Donovan by heading hard into the high left corner of the net.
“In a game where goals made a big difference, their one has got them the three points,” Rapids head coach Gary Smith said after the match. “We showed all the qualities that we have done so far this season – very determined, some terrific build-up play. Tonight, we created some fantastic opportunities but we have to score. We don’t score, we don’t get the points.”
But Smith realizes it’s still early in the season, even with the Galaxy now being nine points ahead of both Colorado and Houston. Like many of his players, he’s disappointed by the poor finishing, but glad his side is playing decent soccer.
“If we continue to play like that, I have no fear we shall achieve something we haven’t done in the last three years,” he said of the team’s second-half performance. “We just need to be a tad more clinical in front of goal.”
Baudet, who completed his first 90 minutes of the season following injuries, a red card and suspension, echoed his coach’s thoughts.
“I thought it was a good game,” said the French center back. “We are disappointed, but we can’t be too disappointed. It’s always hard to take a loss, but there are a lot of positives to take out of the game and we are not going to stop now. If we keep playing this way, we are going to win more than we lose.”
The Rapids now face a lengthy period of licking their wounds and further processing Wednesday’s defeat. They don’t play again until May 15 at D.C. United. That’s plenty of time to figure out how to put it all together again.