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Colorado Rapids’ defensive struggles continue

Colorado Rapids defender Sam Vines (13) reacts at the end of the game against the D.C. United in the second half at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. D.C. United defeated the Rapids 3-2. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Saturday night’s match saw the Colorado Rapids jump out to an early 1-0 lead on a Benny Feilhaber goal, but visiting D.C. United stormed back with three unanswered goals to take a 3-1 lead into halftime. Colorado pulled back a goal with a Kei Kamara strike (66’) in the second half, but ultimately fell in a 3-2 loss at home, their fourth loss in a row.

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 3-2 loss to D.C. United:

Disheveled defense

A common theme in 2019 and arguably throughout Anthony Hudson’s tenure as head coach of the Colorado Rapids is the lack of defense. Saturday marked the third-straight match in which Colorado had conceded three or more goals and the frustration with the defensive effort is beginning to boil over, at least from the coach’s perspective.

“We still have to do better with the goals we conceded, irrespective of the shape, irrespective of formation, we still have to defend a corner better than that,” Hudson told reporters following the loss. “The second goal where it ricochets off of two of our players, they get a bit of luck there, but then we still have to defend that better – that has nothing to do with shape, that’s about defending better. We adjusted a few things to be a bit more positive and obviously the game dictated them when we made changes in bringing more attackers on the pitch, and they didn’t have a lot of the ball in the second half so we didn’t have to do a lot of defending so, it really was that spell in the first half that hurt us.”

Hudson is referring to a span in the first half in which D.C. United scored three unanswered goals in eight minutes, which essentially ended the match for Colorado, despite showing urgency in the second half.

Colorado has now conceded 19 goals in seven matches at an alarming rate of 2.71 goals per game.

Vines Growing

For all of the Rapids’ defensive woes, a glimmer of hope was present in the debut of Homegrown left back Sam Vines in the starting XI.

The experiment of converting Dillon Serna to a left back seems to have been scrapped for now by Colorado’s coaching staff, following performances in which Serna was exposed by bigger, faster and more physical attackers on the Rapids’ left flank.

“Dillon’s had to play there since the start of the season [due to injuries]. The reality is that’s not his position but he has for the large part done a very good job for the team,” Hudson explained.

In contrast, Vines was relatively solid in his debut, looking to limit mistakes and not take as many risks going forward.

“It’s not easy for a young kid to come in and play when there’s such a focus on not conceding goals and a lot of pressure on the team,” Hudson said of Vines’ performance

Fortress Failure

Despite an improved roster, the Colorado Rapids have failed to get results in 2019 as the team continues to seek its first win with seven matches already played. Colorado’s two points earned on the season only beats out Portland (0-5-1, 1 point) as the worst record in MLS.

The Timbers have faced a tough and long road, however, scheduled to play all road matches until June 1. while renovations to Providence Park are underway.

In contrast, Colorado has had the luxury of four home matches, failing to win in all of them and going down a man in three of four.

Again, it’s a repeat of the same themes and issues that have been present all season for Colorado, but a failure to right the ship at home makes all hope of making the postseason out of the question.

With an arguably tougher portion of their schedule now having passed, it will be imperative that Colorado attempts to string together results before 2019 becomes another lost season for the Rapids.

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