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Tommy Smith’s return and other takeaways from Colorado’s 2-1 loss at FC Dallas

C Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez (1) appears to make the save on a deflection from Colorado Rapids defender Tommy Smith (5) but is overturned by video review during the second half at Toyota Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

A slow start and waves of possession by FC Dallas led to a first half goal from Michael Barrios led to the hosts entering halftime with a 1-0 lead over the visiting Colorado Rapids. But a 69th minute equalizer from Rapids centerback Tommy Smith leveled the match at 1-1 as Colorado looked poised to gain a road point. The Rapids’ efforts were thwarted, however, as a late goal by Ryan Hollingshead in the 82nd minute salvaged a 2-1 win for Dallas.

Here are three takeaways from Colorado’s 2-1 loss to FC Dallas.

Shinyashiki hits the fan

Due to the absence of Diego Rubio due to international duty, Andre Shinyashiki, the Rapids’ early MLS Rookie of the Year candidate made his first MLS start on Saturday, and in large part looked like a comfortable and confident part of the Rapids’ attack, despite only serving a reserve role thus far.

Despite a lethargic start to the match for Colorado, Shinyashiki was able to create for the Rapids including this on-target effort in the 21st minute which would’ve put Colorado ahead early. He followed that up with another on-target effort four minutes later.

Of the Rapids four on-target opportunities, Shinyashiki accounted for half.

“I think it was a good performance although we didn’t get the result we wanted,” Shinyashiki said postgame. “The team played well for long stretches of the game. We gave up two goals which makes it hard for us especially on an away game. But overall the team did well, and we should build from it.”

Rapids on the mend

Saturday’s game was positive in that it saw two players that have been out since preseason with injuries make their 2019 regular season debuts for Colorado.

Centerback Tommy Smith (knee) made his return to the starting XI for the Rapids and had a tangible impact on the game with what would be Colorado’s lone goal of the match in the 69th minute. Defensively, Smith put in a solid effort with six clearances and four recoveries, to go along with a tackle high up the pitch in the 72nd minute.

“It’s great to be back out there, but obviously very disappointed with the result of the match,” Smith said of the performance, adding, “I knew the ball was in and I was 99% confident it had crossed the line. To be honest I’d give up any goal that I’ve scored to get three points because it’s so disheartening after. We know we started quite slowly today but in the second half we got on top and when we got the equalizer. It felt like we were going to be the team to go on and win but it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth it didn’t happen for us.”

The Rapids also gained an attacking option with the return of Sam Nicholson (back) who substituted into the match in the 81st minute. Nicholson had a shot blocked in extra time which would have potentially leveled the match.

Time to Panic?

The short answer is, no. In a lengthy 34-game MLS season, it’s still early days for the Colorado Rapids and other clubs looking to stake their claim at a playoff spot.

Colorado’s fanbase is concerned, and perhaps rightfully so, given the Rapids’ historic performances over the past few seasons.

Two main concerns right now are the Rapids’ home form and late game lapses.

In two home matches, in which they went down a man and failed to secure wins, dropping a potential four points in the process. Given the structure of MLS in general, and the fact that Colorado only won once away last season, home points will be crucial to any goal of making the playoffs for Anthony Hudson’s team.

In the past two matches against Sporting KC and FC Dallas, Colorado has dropped a potential three points by giving up late goals. It’s a concern given the similarity to how the team performed early on last season. But with lessons to be learned and players returning from injury, hopefully it’s an issue that can be corrected.

If Colorado wins its home match against third-placed Houston next week, it would do well to calm the nerves of those invested in the club. But another loss or failure to gain all three points at home will only raise the volume of criticisms.

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