Practicing set piece defending

Set piece defending gets extra attention at training

Commerce City, Colo. - It's standard for teams to run through set piece drills the day before a match, when the coaching staff can go over each players' assigment based on who will likely play. But when a team spends nearly 30 minutes on such drills to end the second training session of the week, it stands out as added work.

"We're working on and demanding improvement on what we think has been a difficult area this season, and that is defending set pieces," said coach Oscar Pareja after training. "We're working hard on this, and the guys have responded really well. We think we have to improve this in training so we can do this well in a match."

The Rapids have conceeded eight goals on headers, six off corner kicks and one off a long throw-in, this season. The team has also surrendered a number of goals off second phase plays off crosses, including two own goals. Last Saturday, Seattle's Eddie Johnson shook his mark and headed in a Mauro Rosales corner kick - only 1:20 into the game.

"We're insisting on three things: responsibility, mentality, and intensity," Pareja added. "Those three focuses have be buttoned up."

Pareja said the team will continue placing extra attention on defending crosses over the next two sessions as they prepare to face Real Salt Lake on Saturday in the third and final Subaru Rocky Mountain Cup match of the season (7 pm MT).