Colorado Rapids: Looking To ‘Be Who We Are’ Against Columbus

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COMMERCE CITY, CO - NOVEMBER 27: Colorado Rapids coach Pablo Mastroeni reacts to a play on the field during the second leg of the Western Conference Finals at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on November 27, 2016, in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Editorial (May 28, 2017) – After losing two games in a week, the Colorado Rapids got back to basics. They reestablished their identity and it got them a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City. They’ll look to continue that at home this Saturday against Columbus Crew SC.

Colorado Rapids: Looking To ‘Be Who They Are’ Against Columbus

Saturday night was a vintage 1-0 Rapids victory. They worked their butts off. They stayed compact defensively. The opponent had a lot of possession and a high volume of low percentage scoring chances. The Rapids got one good scoring chance and they made it count.

Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni spoke about the team getting back to their identity: “This felt like 2016. I think a lot of people forget how that started – it was with gritty defending . . . They’re not going to penetrate us and when we get one chance, we’re going to nick one and we’re going to get a goal.”

That was their modus operandi last year. They play a system what works in the face of the opponent having more possession and shoots. Mastroeni isn’t one for analytics. Like the NBA team that wins without shooting only three pointers, they’ve built a system that goes against conventional wisdom.

They slowly assembled a roster to execute this philosphy. Mastroeni got every player to buy into the identity. It all came to fruition in 2016. But the Rapids have been a bit lost in 2017. The Sam Cronin trade brought an adjustment period. The defense has had a rotating cast.

Even with all this, they weren’t playing Rapids soccer. The effort wasn’t there. The defensive shape was missing. They’ve found that in the last two home games.

“That’s what we haven’t had this year. We’ve had some pretty football games and we’ve lost those. The stats were wrong tonight and the stats will lose to the human spirit every day of the week,” said Mastroeni.

Colorado has reestablished themselves at home. They need to build on that going forward, especially on the road where they’ve yet to get a result. The team is building towards a more attacking minded system, but that will take time and probably some moves in the summer.

In the meantime, “it’s ok to be who we are,” as Mastroeni said on Saturday. They’ll need to do that to get a win against Columbus.

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