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View from the Booth: Needing a clinical finisher to deliver the knockout blow

What if Hendry Thomas hadn't departed the Houston Dynamo game with what appeared to be a hamstring injury?

How would things have unfolded had Marvell Wynne not hobbled off the previous week against Seattle, Edson Buddle not pulled out just before kick-off, or Deshorn Brown not injured his quad at training the day before?

Would the result have been different if Pablo Mastroeni and Diego Calderon had not sustained injuries at LA Galaxy?

The short answer to all three questions is, 'we'll never know'.

From those encounters, the Rapids emerged with just one point out of a possible nine. More damaging, though, were the injuries, injuries which have blighted the season so far and made it difficult for any of us to give an honest assessment of this team's capabilities.

Full Match Highlights

Against the Dynamo, the Rapids more than held their own, playing a side which now has sole ownership of the record streak for unbeaten games in MLS - 30.

There were a few good chances against Houston – Danny Mwanga had one cleared off the line and Jamie Smith rattled the upright – but nowhere near the volume seen in previous games.

At the other end, a combination of woodwork and Clint Irwin kept the Dynamo at bay. The young 'keeper's stock rises with each 90 minutes.

Another huge bonus from Sunday was the return of both Mastroeni and Martin Rivero. Rivero was making his first appearance of the season. Veteran midfielder Mastroeni was returning from his second injury of what is still a young campaign.

It's been a stop-start season so far. The team is forever changing, as key personnel go down injured but - though not helpful - injured players is not the main cause for the indifferent start.

The reason was discussed at length by Marcelo Balboa and myself before the Houston game. It was at the root of my interviews with Oscar Pareja, Jamie Smith and Atiba Harris last week, and is why the Rapids are second bottom of the Western Conference and not second from top.

Mwanga misses open net


There, I've said it.

It's not a dirty word, but it's surprising how many of us shy away from confronting the issue head on.

I've often heard it suggested 'at least we're creating chances. Now we've just got to start putting them away.'

Well, I'm afraid, it's come to the stage when that reasoning has to stop.

My wife's stopped wondering now, but there was a time when she'd enquire: "Have you made dinner?"

"Not quite," I'd reply. "But I have taken the food out of the refrigerator."

Almost, but not quite.

The same goes for the Rapids.

Did they win?

No, but they created lots of chances.

Almost, but not quite.

Smith shot hits the post

I'm hoping that everything comes together someday soon, falls into place and some unsuspecting opposition gets a good hiding.

This team has that in them, because the eleven which take to the field each week are rarely outplayed, and they will always create chances.

It says much for the squad assembled by the Rapids - their mental strength, belief and unity - that every game this season has been a tense, tight affair. Even the matches they've lost could've gone either way - with the possible exception of LA Galaxy.

No drubbings, only irritation at the lack of goals and stack of injuries.

Against the Dynamo, they again gave everything. This team always does. There are no shirkers in this squad, and that's what gets them through some games when the goals fail to flow.

Performances, such as the one seen in Houston, only highlight the frustration in the season so far. Battling their way to a hard-earned point is fantastic, when taken in isolation, as few leave Houston with anything. But we cannot forget the games gone before, and the missed opportunities.

Houston GK denied Sturgis

We know this side can stand toe-to-toe with most teams, but they've yet to prove that they can consistently deliver the knockout blow. The clinical finisher must come to the fore.

All four defeats this term have been by the odd goal. In three of the four games, the Rapids were left to wonder 'what might have been'. The same could arguably be said for at least one of the drawn games.

In an earlier edition of 'View from the Booth' I closed the piece by writing 'goals win games, and the Rapids need to start winning', since when they have picked up two victories … but it could've been so much better.