The Colorado Rapids played their prettiest soccer in the 2-2 home draw against Seattle earlier this season. They have played their most professional soccer in the last two home victories which included a tight 1-0 win over Toronto last night.
Sometimes, it’s about digging deep and finding ways to win. The victories against Houston and Toronto are a far cry from the horrors of Bridgeview when the Rapids blew a 2-0 lead with less than 20 minutes to go against Chicago. Surely, now, the Rapids are in the playoffs. Thoughts may even be turning to what ifs? Can the Rapids go all the way a la Gary Smith pre-match big screen video?
Toronto may not have been all that much of a threat offensively, De Rosario excepted, and they may have finished with just nine men, but let’s think of what the Rapids were missing. No Mastroeni, no Gibbs, no Palguta and no Jamie Smith, on crutches last night and out until the postseason. No Clark, obviously. He told me last night that he was making a good recovery but we won’t see him on the field until April 2010.
This was a time when the irregulars and the newbies as well as the more seasoned players had to step up and they did, big time. Drew Moor, signed from Dallas only on Monday, was almost flawless in defense apart from one near-fatal error in the first half when he almost gifted the ball to Toronto in front of goal. Other than that, this was a hugely promising debut. It was also good to see Mike Holody get his MLS debut. Gary Smith said afterwards that the rookie has been very impressive since returning from loan and has edged himself up the defensive pecking order.
Props to the big players too. Conor Casey may have missed the penalty but his header was all Casey. Brutal. There was so much power in that header. Strike partner, Omar Cummings, may have been shut down rather well by Toronto’s impressive center back, Gomez, in the first half but he was always a threat. When was the last time the Jamaican had a bad game for the Rapids?
"We've been talking about it all week, of how difficult it was going to be and how we needed the right attitude," Julien Baudet told me after the game. "This showed how we can graft results. From back to front, it was a very professional performance."
Yes, indeed. This was all about heart and graft and finding a way to win in trying circumstances. The Rapids may be depleted in many areas of the field, particularly in midfield, and there are moves afoot to strengthen that area. Yesterday, there were reports of DaMarcus Beasley walking around the stadium with Cory Gibbs. Maybe they are just good friends or maybe Gibbs is trying to persuade him that Denver’s a nicer place to live than Glasgow? Who knows? Let’s think about the difference in money between the MLS and the Scottish Premier though. He would have to take a mighty step down in wages. I’ll try and get something up after Labor Day on the transfer and injury list dilemma.
For now, Rapids fans should be proud of the squad they have and how they are toughing things out to help bring this team into the playoffs.