Even with two ties and a loss in the second round of qualifying last weekend, the Colorado Rapids Under-17 squad qualified for the International Event of the Generation adidas Cup, to be held in April, with an overall 2-1-2 record.
“Our primary goal was to qualify for the International Event,” said Head Coach Mitch Murray. “Throughout the weekend we struggled in the final third, but the games were intense and we created some good chances, and we qualified so I’m very happy with the results.”
On the heels of a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Rush the previous weekend, lack of finishing has become a theme for the Rapids, who have not yet scored a goal in 2014. But with two scoreless draws and a 1-0 loss, the Rapids’ progress this weekend was anchored by a very solid defense, and Murray is not worried about the future.
“I think we have one of the strongest defenses in the region, if not the country,” said Murray. “Through the five qualifying matches, they only allowed three goals, and the next closest team gave up six. Our attack in the final third has been an issue, but defensively we’ve been outstanding.”
The squad was bolstered this weekend by help from Quentin Pearson, Miles Chow and Nathan Braaten, who usually play up an age-group with the U-18s. That allowed Murray some flexibility with his lineup, where he moved center back Sam Rabin into the defensive midfielder role. Virtually no training in the position did not keep Rabin from having a standout performance, though, serving as a catalyst for better movement through the defense and midfield.
Now, the squad has two weeks until their next match, during which time they will be able to take advantage of warmer weather to focus on their attack.
“Play in the final third is a must for us. It’s a lot of pressure on the defense when you don’t score,” added Murray. “Our defense is strong, but we need to improve our ability to create more chances and put those chances away, and I think it will come.”
The Rapids U-16s return to Development Academy action on March 1, facing the Houston Dynamo at the Houston Amateur Sports Park.
Meanwhile, the International Event of the Generation adidas Cup will take place in April at a date and location to be determined, where the top three teams and invited international clubs will face off for the title. Click here for more information.
Generation adidas Cup Schedule and Results
DATE OPPONENT RESULT
Oct. 11 Real Salt Lake W 3-2
Oct. 14 Houston Dynamo W 1-0
Feb. 14 Chicago Fire D 0-0
Feb. 15 Kansas City D 0-0
Feb. 17 FC Dallas L 0-1