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Colorado Rapids’ 4-4-2 and other takeaways from 2-1 loss to DC United

Jul 28, 2018; Washington, DC, USA; D.C. United forward Wayne Rooney (9) passes the ball against the Colorado Rapid during the second half at Audi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Kellyn Acosta made his league debut for Colorado following his trade to the Rapids earlier in the week. Acosta nearly put Colorado in front early with his penalty take in the 26th minute which was saved by David Ousted, but instead Wayne Rooney’s 33rd minute nutmeg of Tim Howard gave the hosts a 1-0 lead at halftime.

Acosta drew the game even with his debut Rapids goal in the 82nd minute, but an extra time own goal by substitute Niki Jackson gifted D.C. United all three points in the 2-1 win.

Here are three takeaways from the Rapids’ 2-1 loss to D.C. United.

In Formation

Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson may not have hot sauce in his bag, but he does have a few tools at his disposal, including pivoting to the 4-4-2 that Colorado displayed on Saturday.

The switch was generally positive for Colorado, which split possession and the shots were nearly even with D.C. putting up four shots to Colorado’s three.

The second half was more favorable to D.C., which put up more shots, but the Rapids were able to end the match nearly even on possession – something the team has struggled to do in matches throughout 2018.

It was a refreshing change to the bunkered 5-4-1 that the Rapids have rolled out in various road fixtures this season.

Stars and Stripes

The stars aligned at Audi Field on Saturday as former Premier League marquee players Wayne Rooney and Tim Howard met once again, this time representing D.C. United and Colorado, respectively.

Rooney had the upper hand in this matchup, slotting home the opening goal in the 33rd minute between the legs of Howard. It was an iconic moment for both D.C. United and MLS as Rooney got on the scoresheet for the first time since joining the club a month ago.

For Rapids fans, the moment was a microcosm of frustrations with the Rapids’ expensive signing. Despite being the most expensive goalkeeper signing in MLS history, the production has been middling for Howard who ranks 8th in saves and who’s goals against average (1.55) and save percentage (68.3) don’t rank within the top ten of MLS.

Howard will always be an American icon, but on goals like Rooney’s, or Damir Kreilach’s last week for RSL, Howard has looked more Statue of Liberty than Secretary of Defense of late.

Welcome Back Acosta

Not many had the opportunity to see midfielder Kellyn Acosta’s Colorado Rapids debut on Tuesday in a friendly against Boca Juniors, so Saturday’s match was a second debut of sorts. His first appearance for Colorado in league play presented a bigger opportunity to present himself again to coaches, fans, opponents and onlookers throughout MLS (and potentially abroad).

The box-to-box midfielder proved to be the most active Colorado player on both sides of the pitch, producing seven of the Rapids’ eight shots on goal including the team’s lone goal in the 82nd minute that at the time appeared to steal a road point for the struggling side.

Acosta missed a penalty opportunity earlier in the match that would have put the Rapids in front early in the match, but the fact that the generally cautious Hudson gave the new addition the opportunity is an indicator to the faith Colorado has in their new signing.

Michael Barrios’ hat trick for Western Conference leaders FC Dallas showed why Acosta became an expendable asset, but Acosta has instantly shown an impact in just his first week with his new club. Early returns show that the Acosta-Badji trade is still a win-win situation for both teams.

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