In my weekly wrap-up, I'll recap the disappointing season opener, preview next week's home opener and cover a few other Rapids new related topics.
Recapping the loss vs Seattle
There is no way to put it nicely. The Colorado Rapids were absolutely abysmal in their season opener. It was painful to watch. They were unable to kick their habit of losing on the road as they fell to Seattle, 4-0. The reigning CONCACAF Champions League winners were simply too strong. The Rapids saw four total players earn club debuts while Diego Rubio missed out due to injury.
Despite opening the game with a very solid 15-20 minutes, Colorado just couldn't keep up. The gegenpress was working until it didn't. Which meant that the game turned into a track meet with a very high defensive line by the Rapids. And they paid for it. Individual and team mistakes led to scoring chances you just can't give up to a quality opponent. Some bounces didn't go their way which made matters worse. Regardless, they were outplayed on the night. You have to hand it to Seattle, who look like they're back this year as they played exceptionally well. Especially when under pressure.
Head Coach Robin Fraser stated that it's mostly his fault and that he may have set up the team to fail by playing too aggressively. With a 433 formation, a high line and pressing up field they certainly did play aggressively. To be honest, I'm glad they didn't park the bus with five at the back. I applaud them for "going for it" and hope this doesn't mean we retreat into a shell in the future. Especially against stronger teams.
Although the majority of the team played poorly, a few individual stood out. Both outside backs had atrocious games. Keegan Rosenberry was frequently caught ball watching and demonstrated poor positioning while Alex Gersbach looked lost. Adjusting to a new a league can be tough but the Australian had a subpar debut to say the least. Lalas Abubakar continued to show his regression with poor decision making throughout the game. Maxso was the only bright spot on the backline but he had little help.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
In midfield, I was thoroughly impressed with the new Irishman, Connor Ronan. He demonstrated an impressive passing range and vision. I personally haven't seen him play before, so I was quite pleased to see how agile and quick he is on the ball as well. The other Rapids debut came in off the bench, Kevin Cabral. He only saw 19 minutes of action but looks ready to prove himself.
The other positive spins on the game are that youngsters Darren Yapi and Ralph Priso saw action. Yapi hit the post in the 2' and looked solid throughout the game. We all know he's got a physical presence but more importantly he found teammates in the buildup play. It was his second professional start for the Homegrown 18 year old.
Off the field, the Apple TV product was fantastic. What a joy for Rapids fans to not have to find an illegal stream, jump through hoops with a TV provider and to actually see a high quality image!
Moving forward, the team has to perform better. Mentally and physically. This team has been much better at home and will look to continue that trend on Saturday night. They have to improve on the basics like finding a simple pass and completing it. Pushing forward at the right moment and not always taking the safe pass. Know when to press and when to contain. It feels very much like a "back to basics" training week for the team.
Here's how Robin Fraser put in the post-game press conference on Sunday night, "...we have to learn from it [the loss to Seattle] and we need to come out guns blazing next week. Kansas City is a very good team and to have them at home we know it's going to be a big challenge, but we need to deal with this. As I said to them, I want this one to hurt because it should hurt, but we have to also take it and learn from it and come out better next week.”
Preview home opener vs Sporting KC
Local rivals Sporting KC visit after they too lost their home opener. Colorado has an additional day of rest going into this match as KC had to play on Monday night. I wouldn't expect many changes to the lineup other than Kevin Cabral getting a start with Barrios going to the bench. If Jack Price is healthy enough to start, Priso would go to the bench as well. Otherwise, I'd guess we see a very similar looking squad with minor changes. I expect Fraser to try his usual tactic of tiring the opponent down at altitude before bringing on difference making subs midway through the second half.
Sporting KC may have lost to Portland 1-0 but they didn't play poorly. It looked like they were the better team for 80 minutes. Portland capitalized on their mistakes and KC didn't. Sound familiar? Anyway, they'll lineup in a 433 formation and have a dangerous attack. On an individual level, Erik Thommy is one of the better central midfielders in the league while Salloi, Agada and Shelton provide the attacking threats. Johny Russell missed the first game of the season with a hamstring injury and is expected to miss the visit to Colorado. Gadi Kinda is still out while Alan Pulido was listed as questionable in their first game. Former Rapids defender, Kortne Ford is out of the season with an achilles injury. This leaves a lot of question marks but their depth seems sufficient at this point. KC doesn't look like a team that's going to repeat last year's mistakes and they always seem to get up for a match with Colorado.
More Rapids News!
Unfortuntely Diego Rubio is officially out 2-5 weeks after successful surgery on his knee. Not a major surgery, so he should be back on the pitch soon. Meanwhile, Darren Yapi is expected to start in his place for a majority of the minutes while the Chilean is out. The only other striker options are more of the hybrid winger role like Calvin Harris, Jon Lewis or Kevin Cabral. My assumption is that Yapi starts every game until Rubio is back. Especially after a strong showing in Seattle.
Season Kick Off Party! First time since the pandemic featuring kit customization of the new kit. The orange and red color palette that goes on the numbers of the kit look absolutely fantastic (see image below). The event goes from 6-9pm at Asterisk in downtown Denver, where players will be showing off the new kit and enjoying the party with fans.
March 1 6-9pm at Asterisk Denver. Event is free and open to the public. RSVP for a change to win a new Rapids Community Kit. Player fashion show, purchase the jersey and get the exclusive customization to boot! Photo stations, interactive experiences, music, drinks for purchase and more.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
The club asked for the public to RSVP which you can do here: https://www.coloradorapids.com/news/join-us-at-the-2023-season-kickoff-party
For more info on the new kit, check out the club's video here: https://www.coloradorapids.com/video/crvi2301-kh-corapids-sts-16x9-youtube-final-alt-16765#crvi2301-kh-corapids-sts-16x9-youtube-final-alt-16765