COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids feel that they should have at least two points in their last two games.
Instead, they have zero points from both matches despite strong efforts against the Seattle Sounders and the LA Galaxy. All things considered, defending set pieces has proven to be the primary culprit for the dropped points.
On April 14th against the Sounders, Zach Scott’s wide-open, 63rd-minute header from a corner kick resulted in the lone goal in the Rapids’ 1-0 loss in Seattle. And Saturday night against the Galaxy, David Beckham’s free kick found an unmarked Mike Magee, who fired a short-range header off of Rapids defender Marvell Wynne and past Matt Pickens during a 2-1 Galaxy win in Commerce City.
After each goal, Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja blamed a lack of concentration for allowing the respective scores.
“We addressed it before, we addressed it during [the game] and we addressed it at the end,” Pareja said of his team’s struggles defending set pieces. “It’s costing us points, but we’re all responsible for it.”
After both goals, keeper Matt Pickens (above) could be seen yelling at his defenders in frustration, and Pickens said postgame there’s a simple solution to solve the Rapids’ issues defending the set piece.
“It’s easy. Look at me and I’ll tell you what to do.” Pickens quipped after the game Saturday. “It just needs to be set up faster. It takes way too long to set up.”
Saturday night’s free kick from Beckham found an inexcusably open Magee, who found himself unmarked after the Rapids’ backline shuffled and looked confused despite stern orders from Pickens. Following the goal, Pickens could be seen screaming at his defense for well over a minute, eventually requiring striker Omar Cummings having to come over and calm the veteran goalkeeper down.
“We just weren’t organized. You can’t allow that with someone like Beckham over the ball,” centeral defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com after the game. “We worked on it through the week and guys weren’t on the same page. Whatever [Pickens] tells you to do, do it. We were caught unaware. It wasn’t good enough it needs to be dealt with. This team is too professional to allow goals like that.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.