From April 13th to June 29th, the Colorado Rapids hadn’t lost a game. They haven’t lost back-to-back games all season until this week.
With the first two games of a three-game road trip in the books, things have gone from bad to worse. With Saturday night's hard loss to the New England Revolution, the Rapids now have some ground to make up.
Without several important players due to international duties, the Rapids found themselves missing goalie Tim Howard most of all. Last time out, Colorado fans saw Howard stopping penalties and keeping his team in the game.
With the return of Zac McMath, Rapids supporters saw their goalie cause penalty-fouls, not stopping them heroically. The first five minutes of the game McMath found himself in a dangerous position in the penalty box, knocking Lee Nguyen down from behind. McMath was bailed out then but called for a penalty later on in the match that Nguyen missed on the post.
The home team's Vietnamese star, Nguyen, hit two posts in the game, a clear sign that the 2-0 result could have been much worse for the visitors.
Despite the return of Micheal Azira, which should have given the Rapids more compactness in defense and balance, Colorado was unable to establish that defensive shape that’s been their bread and butter all year.
The Rapids attack tried several times to respond to no avail, never finding that elusive, decisive, final touch. Dominque Badji created numerical advantages by dribbling his defenders down the right flank, but his services or shots never made quite seemed to make it through.
New England found space down the left flank for both their scores. First, with some short touches, filling empty lanes, eventually leading to Juan Agudelo getting a great look and finishing off the inside post at the 12th-minute mark.
The spaces down that same flank in the first minutes of the second half were even greater. Off a quick possession derived from a header at midfield, the Rev’s quickly got the ball into space to Chris Tierney who finished cleanly with lots of room, as Sebastien Le Toux was late covering down the flank.
Pablo Mastroeni’s team responded with character after the loss that ended their undefeated streak, winning in convincing fashion, 2-0 against Vancouver after losing 5-1 in Yankee Stadium.
Following a tough loss in Salt Leake to Real, a short-handed Rapids team had a tepid response to get off their losing track.
The team didn’t look like itself with the absence of their best international players. Now with FC Dallas up next, the Rapids season is in the most delicate point it has been all year. How they bounce back from these consecutive defeats will greatly determine the rest of the season.