The Colorado Rapids' press office must be working off a template for their post-match releases. My worst fears were realized when I again read that the Rapids had outshot their opponents for the tenth week in a row but had still lost. Just like the Rockies baseball team, a loss over the weekend finally nails it home what most have been thinking for a while. The Rapids will not make the playoffs. To lose successive league games at home, one to a very weakened team, and not score a goal in the process means we have failed when it was crucial to succeed. Yes, the West will always be tight because no one team can dominate and all the teams are similar in standard but we are slipping further and further down and there seems to be little chance of redemption. I hate to be negative but that seems the reality at this stage. May the team prove us all wrong, win all their remaining games at home and pick up wins in unlikely places but that scenario is, indeed, unlikely.
In this blog, I like to report and not apportion blame or give my opinion overly. I am a fan first and foremost and I want this team and organization to succeed. The players, coaching and front office staff have always been very pleasant and helpful to me. I found myself, however, watching the game on Saturday against Toronto unfold with an almost inevitable bad feeling. It's as if we had to score early otherwise we would concede and then be chasing the game. Conor Casey had a wonderful opportunity to score from a perfect cross from Terry Cooke in the second minute but his header went wide. That was the closest we came all game to scoring. We played hard, we passed well when building our attacks and we defended well enough, much better than against Columbus. But, unless it is a cross from mainly Cooke or sometimes Colin Clark, to Casey, we cannot score. We cannot seem to penetrate through the middle at all and are often reduced to long-range shots that aren't really going to go in.
A couple of other details on the game. Toronto's goal was an outstanding free-kick from new signing Chad Barrett. I doubt many goalies would have saved that. I don't remember Bouna having much else to do all game.
One other thing I dislike to do is overly criticize the officials. They are so often an easy target when your team is not playing well. However, this referee was one of the worst I have ever seen on a professional field. The sending off of Clark in the 70th minute perhaps typified the referee's inability to distinguish between a legitimate challenge and a bookable offense. Many referees seem less than stellar in distinguishing between an honest foul and a malicious one (the only type that deserve a booking). This official was incapable of distinguishing between a well-timed tackle and any kind of foul. Clark, who had already been booked for a somewhat obscure offense at the end of the first half, was chasing the ball to the corner flag with a Toronto player hot on his heels. They clashed in pursuit of the ball, the Toronto player fell spectacularly to the ground and clattered into the advertizing boards. Clark didn't even lay any part of his body on him apart from clashing in honest pursuit of the ball. It was a truly terrible decision and added to the somewhat self-induced pressure on the Rapids to chase the game in the final 20 minutes. There were other incidences including two to three tackles Ugo Ihemelu timed perfectly and was then penalized for. This referee needs to take a long, hard look at his performance on video.
However, we cannot blame the referee for our loss. We will need some changes in line-up for this weekend's home agame against Kansas City. Sometimes, things just don't gel and change is needed to inject new enthusiasm into the game.