The Colorado Rapids had their three-match unbeaten run ended by LAFC on Sunday night at Banc of California Stadium as second half goals from Diego Rossi (49’) and Lee Nguyen (80’) propelled the hosts to a 2-0 win in the first ever meeting between the two sides.
Here are some takeaways from Colorado’s 2-0 loss to Los Angeles Football Club
Colorado’s three-game unbeaten run and string of nine points in six games entering Sunday was arguably the Rapids’ best form of 2018. What was promising was not just the results, but the type of soccer Colorado has been playing: possessive football with a high press and counterattacking threat.
But Colorado went away from that for large stretches against LAFC, absorbing pressure and failing to take advantage of offensive opportunities in the first half.
“I thought we played well, aside from 15-20 minutes in the first half, and we came out in the second half and I think we controlled the game and got the press right,” explained Rapids midfielder Dillon Serna. “When you don’t take your chances, it’s hard to come back from one-nil down and reshape the game. I think the way we pressed in the second half was good, we won the ball back a lot easier in good spots and were able to keep the ball. I think we were able to connect the first two or three passes after transition and I think that’s how we gain control of the game.”
With Colorado’s recent results coming against teams like bottom dwellers San Jose and Houston, a Galaxy side which has been struggling, and their Rocky Mountain Cup rivals who were also beaten 2-0 by LAFC, Colorado’s positive run of form may not be what it looked like on paper.
“I think what we’re showing is that the team is building, the team is getting stronger,” Rapids head coach Anthony Hudson emphasized to reporters postgame. “We’ve got a clear identity of how we want to play. The bottom line is that the lads that are on the pitch tonight are absolutely dying for the team. They’re giving everything.”
For all the controversial and/or judgement calls that have gone against Colorado this season, Sunday night’s match featured several breaks in the Rapids’ favor, but the visitors were unable to capitalize.
Just before the half, Rapids defender Danny Wilson was shown on replay appearing to handle the ball in Colorado’s 18-yard-box, which would have prompted a penalty kick opportunity. But the referee didn’t call it and appeared to not review the play with VAR, which prompted a subsequent yellow card issued to Benny Feilhaber for dissent.
Why even have Video Review, if the referee isn’t going to take a look at a situation like this?!?! The inconsistency of when, and how often, referees go to Video Review in #MLS games is very frustrating.#LAFCvCOL #EraPenal #VAR pic.twitter.com/JR0WyHMKQC
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) August 20, 2018
In the second half, the Rapids dodged another bullet as rookie Niki Jackson was issued a yellow for “unsporting behavior” for striking the face of an opponent with his boot while going for the ball, but was arguably inches away from a sending off.
Colorado has certainly been playing harder over the past few weeks, but the Rapids also need to play smarter, in regards to bookable offenses.
Forward Sam Nicholson went off for the Rapids early in the match (28’), reportedly dealing with back problems – an issue that has been plaguing the Scotsman on and off since his arrival in Colorado. Nicholson was replaced by Jackson, who produced chances, but was unable to find the back of the net.
At the half, Rapids homegrown Kortne Ford was subbed off in favor of Deklan Wynne. While no injury was announced, or reported, given the differences in performances between the two players this season, it points to a likely injury suffered by Ford in the match.
On the positive, Giles Barnes made a return to action for Colorado on Sunday. The English-born Jamaican international has appeared in just 137 minutes since joining Colorado during the summer transfer window, and has yet to find the back of the net for his new club.
Centerback Axel Sjoberg remains out with a knee injury, according to the latest injury report, while Kellyn Acosta started and featured for another full 90 minute performance after leaving last Tuesday’s game against the Galaxy with visible sickness.