American Will Bruin was the star of the show on Fourth of July, scoring both goals for the visiting Seattle Sounders as the Colorado Rapids were defeated 2-1 Wednesday night at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s loss.
Good while it lasted
Colorado’s three-game unbeaten streak heading into Wednesday’s match was a welcome change to what has largely been a disappointing season for the Rapids in 2018.
After an eight-game losing streak all but decimated Colorado’s playoff standing, the seven points earned in three matches rekindled those playoff hopes as Colorado was just seven points below the playoff redline with two games in hand over most Western Conference teams.
“I think the guys, we’ve shown a professional attitude over the last three games,” Rapids midfielder Sam Nicholson said of the unbeaten run. “We got something out of the games where we needed to.”
But the loss to Seattle marked a further setback and bungling of a prime opportunity to make up ground against a Western Conference opponent on what is emphasized as one of the most important home games of the year for the club.
The Rapids have been sunk by yellow cards this season, and it had a tangible effect on the team Wednesday as midfielder Jack Price faced his second suspension for yellow card accumulation this season. Price currently leads the league in yellow cards with seven on the year, and the Rapids have four players in the top five for yellow cards accumulated, including Price (7), Dominique Badji (5), Danny Wilson (5) and Edgar Castillo (5).
Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson attributed a great deal to Price’s absence as an underlying cause to the Rapids’ lack of possession in the first half and inability to control the game the way they wanted to.
“I think we got overrun in midfield, really,” Hudson said. “It was a poor start and too many of us were not at the level we need to be from the start. There’s nothing other than it was just a poor start to the game from us.”
As Colorado travel to face Montreal this weekend, they’ll similarly be without Castillo due to card accumulation. Castillo been one of the Rapids’ best talents on both ends, so an ability to adjust and deal with adversity will be vital.
Goalkeepers made the difference in this game, for better or worse. Colorado had only five shots on target against Seattle, including Nicholson’s first half equalizer. Despite conceding, Stefan Frei came up huge for the visitors with four saves and one punch of the ball away from danger, including a crucial save late on Shkëlzen Gashi’s effort in the 82nd which would have tied the game.
It was the inverse for Rapids Designated Player Tim Howard. Seattle had just two on-target efforts in the full 90 minutes and both found their way into Colorado’s net. On the second goal, Howard’s poor decision to kick the ball short to Gashi resulted in a quick turnover and the second goal for the Sounders.
Games like Howard’s 10 save effort last Sunday in a 1-0 win against Vancouver show his worth, but in the 2-1 Fourth of July loss, it showed why most front offices don’t opt to spend big dollars on an aging ‘keeper.