Yesterday’s second game of the Western Conference final was a tale of two teams. Really it was a tale of two Colorado Rapids teams; one that wanted to win, and one that the fans questioned. Going into the game, Colorado may have been considered slightly favored, because they were undefeated at home and 1-0 wins were kind of the Rapids’ style. All it would take for the Rapids to pull out a Western Conference championship was one goal and a shutout, thanks to away goals and aggregate scoring. That did not happen.
The first forty-five minutes saw a very quick yellow card for Roman Torres, a ton of fouls (and questionable fouls, and questionable no-calls), and not a lot of offense. Seattle mostly couldn’t move the ball past the halfway mark, and Colorado focused their game on wearing out the other team to possibly make a fast break to the goal. The Rapids pushed hard forward, but were unable to strike on-target. In the first half, they had eleven shots to the Sounders’ one, but none of them were on target (and in the full 90 minutes, the Rapids finished the game with zero strikes on target).
The second half turned significantly more physical, as Colorado attempted to fight their way to a win. An extraordinarily worn-out Jordan Morris scored the only goal of the game in the 56th minute, and the game essentially ended after that. Despite subbing in Marlon Hairston for an underwhelming Sebastien Le Toux, and bringing in Marco Pappa and Dominique Badji at the zeroth hour hoping for an offensive spark, the Rapids looked purely defeated.
Although Colorado dominated in nearly every statistical category, including possession by an incredible 25%, and had great passing accuracy, one shot won the Western Conference championship for Seattle in the end, 3-1 in aggregate. After all, if statistics won games, why would we even fill the stands?
From here, the Sounders go on to play the winner of the Montreal/Toronto Eastern Conference championship, to be decided on Wednesday, in the MLS Cup final. But what of the Rapids?
def not how mls works pic.twitter.com/uQx8dgDf9J
— Pablo Maurer (@MLSist) November 28, 2016
To start, apparently they’ll need to find someone to replace free agent Jermaine Jones, who (in a very quickly deleted, misguided, gauche tweet) within ten minutes of losing had announced his intention to pursue finding a soccer home elsewhere. While Jones’ season with the Rapids was cut short, he will surely be missed by the team and the fans, but his spot in the lineup will also need to be filled.
In addition, a team that spent millions of dollars to bring a goalkeeper to the United States only to lose the conference final in a 1-0 game may need to reconsider how they spend their money. While Kevin Doyle and midfielder Shkelzen Gashi have provided a much-needed pop in the front, more depth is certainly needed to strike against opposing teams.
Rapids fans may also need a dose of honest introspection. One year ago, the Colorado Rapids were solid last in the West. Now, second in the Supporters’ Shield race and second in the West? A tough loss for sure, especially at home in the fortress that is Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, but the year overall must be considered a win. Of that, they can be absolutely, positively, burgundy-and-blue sure.
feature photo credit: Colorado Rapids