There’s an English phrase which one could apply to the 0-0 stalemate at home to DC United … ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show.’
In other words, a reality check to follow an emotional high.
That high came at Montreal, and was maintained with the 2-0 home win over New York Red Bulls – the top two in the Eastern Conference.
The harsh reality of the MLS grind struck on Sunday, as the Rapids were frustrated by the bottom side in the Eastern Conference and held to a goalless draw.
Seven points from three games, off the back of three straight defeats and one point from a possible 12, is more than welcome.
But, let’s be honest here, DC United are not a very good side. The stats don’t lie.
* Ten points from 19 games.
* Eight goals in those 19 games.
* They’ve now gone eight full league matches since scoring a goal from open play.
* Their only two goals since May 19 have been via penalty kicks, a span now of 745 minutes.
* They have a goal difference of minus 21 and have lost 13 of their 19 games.
I hear all the positive thoughts …
‘We’re unbeaten in three.’
‘If you’d have offered seven points from three games, we’d have taken it.’
‘It’s another shut out.’
‘The players worked their socks off.’
Full Match Highlights
… and I don’t disagree with any of those sentiments.
I also take on board the suggestion that fatigue may have crept in, with the team having played three games in nine days, and just emerged from three successive road trips.
And, don’t get me wrong, DC United’s keeper Joe Willis was man-of-the-match, without doubt. He rescued his team time and again with some great saves.
But of the 24 shots that the Rapids enjoyed, just eight were on target. Of those eight, maybe only half were actually caught cleanly.
Some may suggest I’m coming across a little harsh, bearing in mind the recent return but, in the words of Rapids skipper, Drew Moor: “This was one of those ties tonight that feels a little bit like a loss.”
I know what he means, and I appreciate that he – like coach Oscar Pareja – was also keen to remain positive and move on to the visit of New England Revolution (July 17th), but this Rapids team had a great chance to win three in a row for the first time this season. Indeed, had they beaten DC United, it would have been the first triple triumph since August, 2011.
And that’s what successful sides do. They string together three, four, five wins in a row. There remains a need to be sharper in front of goal, more clinical and certainly more ruthless. Yes, take the positives out of every contest, but also realize that here was a missed opportunity.
I’m starting to repeat myself now, but ‘first-timers’ sat in the stands on Sunday may have been hard-pushed to determine the home side. It’s no secret that the Rapids have somehow lacked intensity from the get-go at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
The last six home games have been against Toronto, Chivas USA, FC Dallas, San Jose, New York and DC United. Slow starts in all six. Intensity levels not where they should be. I long to see the snarl, which often takes time to form at home, and sometimes only when they’ve been bitten by the oppo.
Since arriving in Colorado, I’ve heard about the difficulty of playing at altitude. Actually, I’ve experienced the difficulty of ‘playing’ at altitude, as even climbing a flight of stairs can have the lungs working over-time!
Rapids, this is your patch, your domain, your back-yard, your home. Dictate, dominate, and deliver. Set the pace. Get in the faces of the opposition from the first whistle. I want to see the visitors huffing, puffing and panting at 5280, not given time to settle or a chance to adjust.
Again, I may appear picky. After all, the team go into their mini mid-season break unbeaten in the last three and with clean sheets in the past two, but we’re edging toward a key point in the season. And, considering the supposed advantage of playing at altitude, home form has been patchy. Played 10, won 4, lost 3, and tied 3.
It was a fantastic win in Montreal. Victory over New York on 4th July, followed by fireworks, was a night to remember, but it all fell a little flat on Sunday. I shared the general feeling of frustration, as that was two points dropped against DC United.
Return, refreshed and ready for the Revolution … and bring that snarl.