And that, everybody is that …
The 2013 season abruptly ended on a drizzly night in Seattle on Wednesday, and left me with the feeling of being asked to leave a party just as it was getting going. We’re now standing out in the street, only able to watch from afar as the rest of the revelers party on.
To say it all fell a bit flat would be an understatement. The Rapids performed heroics much of the season in reaching the playoffs, battling through 34 games, only for the postseason to last just 90 minutes.
And, in all honesty, it was a frustrating 90 minutes, not helped by the inconsistencies of a referee who ought to have known better.
Full Match Highlights
That said, the Rapids have trodden a similar path in their most recent road games, resulting in no goal being scored in the final 375 minutes of the season. Nothing at Portland, San Jose, Vancouver or Seattle.
Wednesday’s loss frantically followed the 3-0 reversal at the Whitecaps on Sunday night. Different venue, but with a same sense of foreboding from an early stage.
Drew Moor, though rightly proud of all that has been achieved this season, did admit to being disappointed with the start in Seattle. Couldn’t agree more. From the moment Silviu Petrescu blew that first whistle, the Rapids needed to be up and at ‘em, in their faces, applying pressure, closing down, busy, aggressive and desperate to snatch the initiative.
That approach only kicked in once the side had gone a goal down, by which stage they were chasing the game. Yet, even when a goal adrift, I couldn’t see where an equalizer was going to come from.
Sounders’ stopper Michael Gspurning had leaked five the last time the teams had met, and appeared shaky in Seattle, to say the least. He wasn’t tested nearly as much as one had hoped, on another night when carving out clear-cut chances was at a premium.
Drew Moor Post-Match
Home form vs. road form has been like night and day for the Rapids, particularly in the final third.
As with the previous performance in Vancouver, passing was a puzzle. Far too often, the wheel would fall off just as the Rapids were gaining momentum going forward. The player being sought, wanting the pass played a yard in front of him, or to feet, would be forced to check his run and gather a wayward ball fed behind him. An extra touch or two was then required, by which time he’d been closed down or dispossessed.
It wasn’t with every pass, of course, but it happened far too much and – when you’re fighting for parity in such a vital game – leads to a build-up of frustration which can knock a side from its stride.
The Sounders seemed to have done their homework on the Rapids, and certainly appeared to have tweaked their stance in a bid to stymie the visitors’ threat. The tag-team of DeAndre Yedlin and Brad Evans did a decent job on Deshorn Brown. It would’ve been interesting to see Brown and Atiba Harris switch flanks now and again, to keep the Sounders on their toes.
Much has been said and written about the changes to personnel for this key match. It took many by surprise but what shocked me most was how a small minority of so-called fans felt it necessary to spew spiteful vitriol on social networking sites.
Sport does toy with your emotions. Watching the team tumble out of the playoffs on Wednesday with a performance that lacked any of the spark, drama or excitement we enjoyed with recent home games, left many feeling they’d been short-changed. I understand that.
Oscar Pareja Post-Match
Head coach, Oscar Pareja, kind of agreed when speaking post-Seattle: “After a game like this, you always feel like we got short of what we wanted.”
But we will never know what the alternative line-up may have produced in Seattle, and that includes those offering advice to the man who has led the team to a record-breaking season, during which we witnessed the return of an old friend in the form of the Rocky Mountain Cup.
Pareja deserves nothing but praise, as do the players. We’re all armchair coaches. We all watch enough soccer to think we know best, but we don’t. Surprised at the line-up? Yes. But if Pareja and his staff felt it was the best bet to take the team forward, then that’s good enough for me.
You’ve got to break a few eggs in order to make an omelet, and I’m looking forward to the perfect omelet in 2014.
So, with the sun having set on the Colorado Rapids’ 2013 season, this will be my final View from the Booth. Thanks for all your feedback and comments throughout. Enjoy the break, reacquaint yourself with family members and loved ones, and take time to reflect on what a memorable season we’ve just witnessed. And then, just as the blood pressure returns to normal, clamber back on board for more merriment and mayhem.