Editorial (June 3, 2019) – The Colorado Rapids have had one heck of a week. They’ve won three of four games and took seven of nine points available in the past week. The offense is clicking with Conor Casey as interim manager. Sam Nicholson and Jonathan Lewis are clicking on the wings. The defense is playing well enough to get results too.
Sam Nicholson and Colorado Rapids Have Found Their Confidence
The Rapids have their confidence back, in particular Sam Nicholson, who’s started four of the last five games. The last month, Nicholson’s gotten back to the level he was at in July and August of last year, before a back injury ended his season in a game at Los Angeles FC.
Sam Nicholson’s chalkboard the last two starts (vs. CLB, CIN). Definitely deployed as a winger looking to get in the box and combine. Not many touches, but he’s been effective. A good compliment to Lewis on the right. #Rapids96 pic.twitter.com/d78IS595im
— Matt Pollard (@LWOSMattPollard) June 3, 2019
“It’s great to have [Sam Nicholson] back, with his speed and athleticism. He’s been great. We’ve tried to manage his body as he returns to play. He’s moving in the right direction and he’s a big part of what we’re doing,” Casey told Last Word on Soccer Saturday night after the match.
“He’s a good player. We need him like this, healthy and fit. He’s making a difference for us, helping the team to win,” said Nicolas Mezquida.
Other offensive players have stepped up as well. Jonathan Lewis has been a breath of fresh air since joining the club and has been dynamic on the left flank. He has a goal in each of his last two appearances. Nicolas Mezquida still isn’t the No. 10 this team needs, but he’s been effective off the bench. The same can be said of Andre Shinyashiki.
This is the closest Colorado’s been to firing on all cylinders, especially in attack. The defense is still letting in goals with just one clean sheet on the year. But the team has cut down on critical mistakes leading to goals. When conceding, it’s been more about the opponent making plays that the Rapids hurting themselves. Lalas Abubakar has been a big acquisition as well, just like Lewis.
I’m still a bit skeptical of the club’s current form given the quality of opponent, or lack there of. Last Saturday is also their first multi-goal win of the season. In all three of Colorado’s wins, they’ve needed a goal in the 70th minute or later. They’re winning late in nail-biter games that could go either way against poor teams.
“We have a lot of confidence. We have a lot of freedom [from the coaching staff]. Stuff is working, we’re just trying to keep the momentum going,” said Andre Shinyashiki. “[Connor Casey] just believes in us. The vibe around the locker room is good because he’s created that positive environment. Before we were playing scared, a little to cautious. Now we just don’t really care. We just go forward and try to win the game. That’s what you should expect from us, a team that’s going to try and win.”
For now, it doesn’t matter whether the form about-face is real, sustainable, or circumstantial. What matters is that the team is getting results and that they believe what they’re doing is working. This team’s confidence was shot by the time Anthony Hudson was sacked.
Now Sam Nicholson and company have got it back and it’s enough for them to start building towards the future, whether that’s 2019 or beyond.