The Rapids’ Open Cup journey came to an end after falling to Real Salt Lake 1-0 in the Round of 16 on Wednesday night.
“Since this competition started, I've talked about nothing but trying to win it, and I've been on so many teams over the years that didn't take it seriously,” said Head Coach Robin Fraser. “And that was one thing that I wanted to make sure that this team took it seriously and I do feel like our approach was right. And I think the only thing that really was missing was a bit more quality at certain points on the field.”
After being eliminated from USOC the Rapids have some fundamental lessons to learn from when approaching another competition outside of league play: utilizing depth, monitoring health of players and taking care of the ball.
So far in the busy month of May, the Rapids played three Open Cup games and four MLS games. Such a hectic and physically demanding schedule means that the team’s depth and health are strong focal points to maintain the highest level of play possible.
Over the course of the month, between six and 10 players were unavailable for assorted games due to injury, green card acquisition or suspension.
Rapids 2 players like Yosuke Hanya and Marlon Vargas were called up this month to earn minutes with the first team and supplement the talent off the bench, while midfielder Danny Leyva joined the team on loan from Seattle Sounders FC at the end of April to strengthen the Colorado midfield.
The team’s approach to tournament play is not dissimilar to league play, exemplified in the Rapids’ level of competition seen in USOC. Colorado scored a total of seven goals in three tournament games.
“Tournaments are always a little bit different and have a little bit different feel to them. It's difficult, it's kind of difficult to draw conclusions or pointers or things that can help us going forward just because I felt like we did kind of want to approach it like a league game,” said defender Keegan Rosenberry.
Open Cup is not the only tournament the Rapids will compete in this year. With the creation of Leagues Cup, Colorado has another opportunity to vie for a trophy in 2023.
All 47 MLS and Liga MX clubs will participate in the new competition, beginning in July. Composed of the best professional teams in North America, the World Cup-style competition is the first tournament of its kind.
Not only does victory in the tournament mean a trophy but also a berth into the Concacaf Champions League Round of 16. Clubs finishing in second and third place in Leagues Cup will qualify for the CCL Opening Round.
“I think the Leagues Cup is going to be a little bit different of a beast, obviously the competition and the rivalry there with Mexican teams,” said Rosenberry. “I think we're gonna have to be in a really good place going into it.”