It's tempting to think it's been an up and down season so far for the Colorado Rapids. Emotionally, sure. But they've only won two games this season with a record of 2-5-6 (W-L-T). Yes, there have been shades of 2021at times but those moments have only been fleeting. We've seen games where the team looks completely lost. Like Wednesday night's crushing 4-0 defeat to Atlanta United. Sometimes the team defense is tight. Sometimes it is porous. Sometimes it's non-existent.
One thing that is definitive is the lack of goals. That's not a new problem for the Rapids but it's been particularly poor this season. The team has scored a total of 10 goals which is only better than KC and NYRB in MLS this season. The deeper you dig on the numbers the worse it gets. Through the first 13 MLS games of the season, no player has scored more than 2 goals (Kevin Cabral and Michael Barrios both scored twice). Is this beginning to sound like the same old story? Just wait, there's more! The team has actually created a pretty decent amount of opportunities but they just can't seem to finish enough.
Presumably, Head Coach Robin Fraser is doing his best to play the cards he's been dealt. Numerous injuries throughout the squad and a suspension for Max hasn't helped matters. But the one thing that sticks out more than anything else is the reliance on using Diego Rubio at positions that aren't striker. This isn't unique either. Fraser has asked him to work defensively in previous seasons. Sometimes playing as an 8. Granted, Rubio has a phenomenal work rate and it's been successful in the past. The other attackers in the squad, like Kevin Cabral, Jon Lewis, Darren Yapi and Michael Barrios haven't done enough to relieve the pressure. They simply aren't scoring goals and it's adding to the pressure for Rubio.
(Image: Colorado Rapids)
One can make the argument that you have to be more patient. This is a new group of players. It takes time to gel. While this is true, we are about one third of the way into this season. Something's got to give. Why not play the Chilean at the striker position more? Even if it's not in the sole striker position but rather the second striker role. Yapi Or Cabral can play as more of the target striker while Rubio works off them. This team needs to score goals. A lot more goals. A more attacking approach and putting Rubio in better positions to score is paramount.
Currently, Colorado sits in 12th out of 14th place in the Western Conference and are only two points away from the playoff line. Which is to say, despite playing pretty poorly at times, the season is far from over. Great timing to turn things around because the rubber meets the road right now. The Rocky Mountain Cup begins with the first of two meetings this week against RSL (one being this Saturday, the next on Wednesday in the US Open Cup). Usually the Burgundy Boys play very well at home but this season they are 0-2-3 at The Dick. This is a must win game as the Rapids look to get their first W at home this season.
The mentality of this squad will really show in this matchup. They need to put in a good fight and show that strong character that Fraser loves to talk about. I think they do have that in them. That they can turns things around. Do I expect the Rapids to climb all the way up the rankings and compete with LAFC and Seattle at the top of the Western Conference? No. But they are capable of more. Winning games and getting into a playoff spot is still a reasonable expectation.
RSL is struggling lately. Colorado needs to be more aggressive and put the ball in the back of the net. Both teams have everything to play for. Expect a physical, tough game at DSG Park on Saturday night. Kickoff is at 7:38pm MT and is available on your TV/streaming device through Apple TV.