The Colorado Rapids’ starting lineup for Saturday night’s 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake Saturday night gave fresh reason for optimism, featuring five changes from their 2-1 loss to Toronto on Wednesday. But the multitude of new faces failed to make a difference as Colorado slumped to their fifth straight loss and seventh loss in eight matches at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja jolted his lineup by taking out regulars Brian Mullan, Omar Cummings and Hunter Freeman, replacing the trio with Jaime Castrillon, Edu and Tyrone Marshall, respectively. However, the moves couldn’t help Colorado crawl out of their worst funk of the season to date.
HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 2, COL 0
“For Brian and Jaime it was more about trying to give Brian a break,” Pareja explained to MLSsoccer.com post-game. “I thought it would help us in a way. With the other two it’s trying to get some answers in the back, and in that part it’s sending messages every day. We send messages to ourselves and the coaches that [our performance] has to be better. We’re looking for answers, especially in the back.”
Pareja’s other two changes from Wednesday, midfielder Jeff Larentowicz (suspension from yellow card accumulation) and forward Conor Casey (left hamstring strain), were forced upon the Rapids skipper.
But all-in-all, the switches involved even more players than the five added and removed from the lineup, as regular center back Drew Moor switched to right back and attacking midfielder Wells Thompson moved into Larentowicz’s holding midfield role.
“It was fine. I thought it was an even game,” Moor told MLSsoccer.com of the lineup changes by phone Saturday night. “I thought Joseph Nane and Wells Thompson did a great job of coming in and cluttering up the midfield. I thought the changes were fine.”
Pareja hasn’t been afraid to mix up his lineups, repeatedly stressing competition and accountability as keys for his team to be successful. But as the first-year coach tries to find his right combination of players, Pareja is also aware that he may have some bumps in the road as he crafts his ever-changing magic formula.
“We again gave up goals after the great effort they put into the field,” Pareja said. “But [mistakes] continue to happen. I know for a fact for the players tried to do everything to bounce back and get points and results, but we keep giving up goals to the other team.”
Pareja will try and unlock a winning lineup again when the Rapids host the Seattle Sounders next Saturday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.