The Colorado Rapids’ current winless streak was extended to four on Saturday afternoon as Atlanta United cruised to a 3-0 halftime lead with goals from Miguel Almirón (10’, 18’) and Héctor Villalba (37’). The visitors held on to the lead in the second half, taking home the three points and jumping New York Red Bulls for the top playoff seed in the Eastern Conference as well as the lead in the Supporter’s Shield race.
Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 3-0 loss to Atlanta:
With their most recent loss, combined with Seattle’s 2-1 win over Cascadia rivals Vancouver last night, the Colorado Rapids are now mathematically eliminated from the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs with six regular season games remaining.
While mathematically eliminated, the result was more ceremonial than anything, as Colorado has been well out of the playoff race from as early as the first week of June, with their playoff odds hovering well below 5 percent (or worse) for the majority of the season.
Despite all that has gone wrong for Colorado this season, Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson remains steadfast that his team is heading in the right direction.
“In the background, we as a staff, as a club, are so clear about what we need and where we’re headed,” he said postgame. “From where we are compared to preseason, we are very, very clear on the type of positions we need to improve. Everyone’s working 24/7 to identify and make sure we make the right decisions in that area. From a playing standpoint, it’s all about delivering big performances.”
When the Colorado Rapids used the summer transfer window to jettison their two top strikers in Dominique Badji (seven goals) and Joe Mason (three goals), legitimate questions were asked by both fans and the media in regards to how the team could produce anything offensively.
The response from the front office and Hudson was that the moves were a necessity (acquiring Kellyn Acosta for Badji) and that the team had faith in summer acquisition Giles Barnes as well as their crop of young strikers including Jack McBean and Niki Jackson. But Colorado’s attackers haven’t delivered, particularly during their current four-game losing streak in which they’ve been outscored 13-0.
“I think it’s clear, we need to bring in attacking players,” Hudson told reporters following the Atlanta loss.
It will surely be a priority for Colorado heading into this winter’s window.
For all of the positive effect that Kellyn Acosta has had on the Rapids since his arrival, Saturday’s performance marked arguably his worst performance in burgundy thus far.
His turnover led to Atlanta’s second goal and with nine unsuccessful passes, it was one of the 23-year-olds sloppier performances.
“Definitely a tough match,” Acosta said of the result. “I don’t want to say unlucky because there were some costly mistakes and times where we just weren’t clean enough. There were several times we passed the ball out of bounds or to the opposing team without any pressure. With a quality team like Atlanta, they’re very clinical from the goal, they took chances. In the second half, we came and we rebounded, that opened up the ball more and created some options. It was disappointing to just let in three easy goals. It’s frustrating to have this result.”
The positive? Acosta is well aware of the team’s faults and took personal responsibility for them, a trait not often seen in players of his age in MLS; a much-desired leadership trait that Colorado desperately needs at the moment.