EDITORIAL – Last night the Colorado Rapids got their biggest win of the year. They beat Real Salt Lake 5-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Head Coach Robin Fraser believes the team has been making progress and this result proves that Colorado Rapids will turn the corner going into Phase Two of the regular season. For Colorado to make the playoffs, this win needs to become an inflection point.
Colorado Rapids Turn the Corner in win at RSL? They Better Have.
It was their first ever win at the RioT, having played there 16 times since the stadium opened in 2008. The result won them the Rocky Mountain Cup for the fist time since 2015. It was also their first win since the season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was their first clean sheet of the year.
Better Performances but Frustrating Results:
To call this result a perfectly timed cathartic win would be an understatement.
1️⃣-2️⃣-3️⃣-4️⃣-5️⃣ the floodgates were open last night 😏 pic.twitter.com/rLWcSf9EB0
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) September 13, 2020
The last three games had been frustrating draws for the Pids. They reestablished their defensive structure and emphasis on shutting down the opponent with decent but imperfect results. They’d been creating chances but not finishing.
“I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks that we’ve been playing better and that we’ve been making it difficult for teams to play against us. Tonight was a continuation. The intensity and aggression with which the team plays has been building for a couple of weeks,” Fraser said postgame.
Diego Rubio had been wasting opportunities. Younes Namli was getting the ball into good areas but the final pass or finish wasn’t there. The midfielders were contributing positively all over the field, expect for in the offensive penalty area. This was most evident in their recent 1-1 draw to Houston Dynamo, where the Rapids beat Houston on team expected goals 2.65 to 1.23.
Bassett: We're creating chances and getting the ball in the good area. Some of it's been execution, some bad luck.
Feels like #Rapids96 could use a game like @ RBNY last year where they get a good result, the guys who need a goal/assist get one, and the team turns the corner.
— Matt Pollard #JusticeForJacob (@LWOSMattPollard) September 6, 2020
“We’ve been pretty good the last number of weeks but we’d not really rewarded ourselves [with results],” said Fraser, adding “we had a win coming soon.”
A win Fraser Believed was Coming:
One of my principals in observing sports is that a winning streak is coming when a team loses or draws games in which they played better than the opponent. A losing streak is coming when a team has been winning games they should have lost based on performance.
Small and simple changes could have seen them beat Sporting KC and San Jose Earthquakes. They absolutely played well enough to beat Houston. That was the game where the performance was +90% there but the result wasn’t. Everything came together on Saturday night in the perfect game against the right opponent at the right time.
“Tonight is the first time that other people can see what we’ve been doing. We have seen progress coming. I have watched this team find an identity. This is us validating what we’ve been doing. Hopefully it’s a stepping stone,” said Fraser.
Rubio scored. Namli had two assists. The defense shutdown RSL. Several role players had good performances and contributed with goals and assists. This is the kind of signature win that defines a team’s season and turns it around. Rubio said it felt like “20 pounds off my back.”
But Fraser knows the journey is just beginning, saying “tomorrow’s another day to get back to work and do what we do well.”
Last Word: This Needs to be a Turning Point.
Time will tell if this win will change the trajectory of Colorado’s season. This is a feelgood win, but it needs to be more than that. The Rapids are still not in a playoff position and have a little more than half the season still to play. They still control their destiny in the Western Conference. This win is proof that progress has been made the last month. It now must become motivation to keep building on what they’ve been doing and finally make the MLS Cup Playoffs.