EDITORIAL – The Colorado Rapids have drawn their last three matches. All from a winning position. In all three games, they played well enough that they believed they could have won. Is this a sign of concern or not? Should the Rapids be happy with the performances and/or mad about this trend of results? Does Colorado need to bring in Ted Lasso as a consultant for a “streak of draws” “Romcommunism” pep talk? Let’s take a closer look and what these Colorado Rapids draws mean.
Three Straight Colorado Rapids Draws: Concerning Results or Encouraging Performances?
First, the good news. The Rapids are still third in the Western Conference. They’re unbeaten in 10 matches, having dealt with an injury to Diego Rubio and international duty for Kellyn Acosta and Mark-Anthony Kaye during that stretch. Sporting KC is in first place in the conference. Colorado has a game in hand on them and is only two points behind. Win that game and play SKC even the rest of the season, they’re top of the table. To say Colorado is in a slump for having drawn their last three games is a compliment to the team’s standards and expectations.
“I’ve never seen a team be successful where everything just goes on a positive trajectory the whole season. We have to get better at certain things but while we’re learning these lessons, we are still acquiring points. Not as many as we want to be, but we’re still acquiring points,” Head Coach Robin Fraser told Last Word after Sunday’s 1-1 tie with Vancouver.
“I’d be a lot more concerned if this conversation came after we scored three goals in the 90th minute to just barely get a tie. My point of that is we’re doing a lot of things well. We’re creating chances. We’ve taken leads in all three games. It’s really how you look at it, glass half full, glass half empty. Can you imagine if these three games were that way and we’d gotten the same amount of points? The feeling would certainly be different.”
Fraser has a point. At times it’s valuable for coaches, players, pundits, and supporters to separate the performance from the result. Soccer can be a strange sport sometimes. A team can play great and lose to a smash and grab. A team can play poorly, park the bus in a 4-4-2, score on their one chance, and luck out to a 1-0 win.
“Right now, the feeling is we do a lot of things really well. As long as you can create chances and not give away a multitude of chances, you give yourself a chance.”
The team has a good trend performance wise this year. They’ve played as a collective. It’s a united and unselfish locker room. Chris Sharpe has them scoring often on set pieces. When the players don’t make mistakes defensively, press well, and pass well, they’ve usually gotten a result. They’ve found ways to win when they aren’t at their best. It’s gotten better throughout the year despite adversities.
“We’ve had a few break downs that have led to goals against us. I would much rather be in that position than we’re scrambling, we can’t create chances, we can’t create goals, and we just manufacture something at the end to eek out a tie.”
There are several valid concerns and flaws when we look at this team. They’ve had stretches of poor finishing. Fraser’s built the team to score goals by committee. Michael Barrios leads the team with seven goals. Half the league has a player with more goals than that. They’ve been competitive in games against other elite teams but have yet to win those game.
In a way, the timing of this streak of draws is good. There’s ten games left in the season; that’s enough time for the whole squad to get 90 minutes fit again. Fraser could tweak a few things to make incremental improvements. The attackers can return to their mean in chance creating and finishing. As Younes Namli said on Sunday, the team can, needs, and will be more clinical going forward.
Is the team still playing well? Yes. Has the team been dropping points given those performances? Probably. Is there room for improvement in both the performances and the results? Yes. Should Colorado win their next two home games against Toronto and Austin? An MLS Cup contender would.
Photo Credit: Mark Shaiken, Last Word on Soccer.