COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The 2018 Colorado Rapids have a finishing problem.
Not finishing in the traditional soccer sense – scoring goals – but rather in closing out games.
To date, Colorado (2-2-3, 9 points) has dropped a possible nine points in games that resulted in either draws or losses. The Rapids have either tied or led in each of those games up to the 75th minute before conceding a result-changing late goal.
“The reality is, we have to work through it, we’re still building,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson said in a local radio interview. “When we’ve gone a goal up, we become overconfident or complacent. We just invite teams on us and it costs us in the end but it’s something we’re well aware of.”
Without the late-game lapses in five of their seven games thus far, the Rapids would be sitting on 17 points and leading the Western Conference. Instead, their weekend opponent – Sporting Kansas City – leads the West with 17 points from nine matches played.
“They are where we ultimately want to be,” Rapids centerback and alternate captain Tommy Smith said of SKC. “They’re top of the league and that’s where all the other teams strive to be. There’s an added incentive to that. After throwing away a two-goal lead against them last time, we need to get [the points] back.”
It’s an issue the Rapids are aware of and have been working to correct. With 27 matches remaining and 1-2 games in hand over other teams in the West, there’s still plenty of time to do it.
“We just need to stick to the game plan,” Smith continued. “It’s shown in every game so far. When we stick to what the gaffer wants us to do, we get successful, we get chances, we get the ball higher up the pitch to get those opportunities to score goals. When we go off the game plan, we provide the opposition with opportunities to score.”
Despite the current issues, the team is still better off than it was a year ago. Through seven games in the 2017 season, the Rapids earned just four points.
“Where we are now is, we’re rebuilding a team that last year had a run of many, many difficult results. We’ve changed lots of players and we’re changing the culture,” explained Hudson. “There’s no easy fit. It’s not going to happen overnight and that’s what we’re doing right now; we’re building.”
Nonetheless, there’s room for improvement.
Said Smith, “We’ve thrown away too many points this season and we’ve been working extremely hard this week to put things right and get three points.”