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Three things we learned from Colorado’s 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City

Colorado Rapids forward Dominique Badji (14) and Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler (5) fight for the ball during the second half of the match at Children's Mercy Park. Sporting won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Salloi’s 16th minute goal propelled Sporting Kansas City to an early lead at home over Colorado on Saturday night, as the hosts held on for the 1-0 win at Children’s Mercy Park.

It extended SKC’s first-place lead in the Western Conference while Colorado’s lost its third in a row, falling to 10th. The Rapids will now return home to host New York Red Bulls next Saturday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

Here are three things we learned from Colorado’s loss against Sporting KC:

Badji needs help (and it isn’t Jack McBean)

Dominique Badji’s 81st minute miss was Colorado’s best opportunity to take home points from Kansas City.

“I had one great chance that I should have put away,” said Badji. “Goals change games and that would have definitely changed the game for us.

It’s easy to criticize for the miss, but the fact of the matter is that Badji has carried the Rapids offense all season. With five goals and an assist, the Senegalese striker has had a hand in 60 percent of the team’s offensive output through eight games played.

Joe Mason has been second on the team with two goals in five starts, so aside from injury concerns or something Hudson saw tactically (although one of Mason’s goals came against Sporting in their prior matchup), it’s puzzling why Jack McBean got the start. To date, McBean has managed only two shots on target in 207 minutes.

Whether it’s throwing Mason and Yannick Boli to the fire, recalling Niki Jackson or Caleb Calvert from USL duty, or getting more production from the wingbacks and midfield, Colorado needs more offensive solutions, particularly on the road.

Nicholson trade still has potential

It’s still too early to grade the Sam Nicholson-Eric Miller trade that happened earlier this week, but here’s what we saw on Saturday.

Defender Eric Miller will be sorely missed in Colorado. He saw his first action of 2018 for Minnesota United, logging 82 minutes as the Loons went down to 10 men, but preserved a 1-0 lead for the team’s first clean sheet of the season. Seeing it adds salt to the wound for Colorado fans, but based on what was seen all season in training, Miller was likely never going to play under Hudson.

Conversely, Nicholson got the start for Colorado on Saturday, after just two training sessions with the team and he did well in 67 minutes of action, completing a whopping 81 percent of his passes including two key passes in the final third. Production like that will be much needed while Shkëlzen Gashi (groin) deals with yet another injury and Stefan Aigner, who appears unfavored by Hudson, has failed to earn any minutes.

“I thought he did very well considering he’s only been with us for a couple of days,” Hudson said of Nicholson. “To be thrown in there against the best team and some of the best players. The guy he was marking is an experienced player and a tough player. I thought he kept him quiet. I thought he put in a really, really good performance.”

Colvey experiment needs to end

To say the Rapids have struggled at right back in the absence of the injured Marlon Hairston (knee) would be an understatement.

In his absence, Hudson has tried to insert midfielder Nana Boateng, converted midfielder Dillon Serna and Kip Colvey into the lineup with limited success.

Colvey is the most natural wingback of this group, but teams have looked to exploit the right side of the Rapids defense in each of his appearances. Yesterday’s final straw was when Colvey mindlessly dribbled the ball out of bounds late against SKC, prompting him to be subbed off for Serna in the 79th minute.

The play was egregious, and although Serna hasn’t proven to be much better defensively, the Rapids homegrown offers more in the attack, and should be given time to learn the wingback role.

In the meantime, Rapids fans are surely wishing Hairston a speedy recovery.

 

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