With Casey out, resurgent Rapids spread the scoring load

Colorado Rapids

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — When Brian Mullan unleashed his rocket into the top-right corner of William Hesmer’s goal Friday night, he became the 14th Colorado Rapids player to score this season.

That is tied with the Philadelphia Union as the highest number of different players to score for any MLS club so far in 2011. The fact that goals are coming from such a variety of sources bodes well for the defending MLS Cup champions, who will need as many fit and functioning bodies as possible as they approach a hectic schedule of league and CONCACAF Champions League games.

“Everyone is scoring goals,” said striker Omar Cummings, who scored the Rapids’ second goal at the weekend. “To see Sanna [Nyassi] and Pablo [Mastroeni] score last week, to me and Brian [Mullan] getting it this week. … You have multiple scorers and just scoring a lot of goals is confidence for any team.”

New goal-scorers have stepped up since the season-ending injury to leading scorer Conor Casey last month.

Since the July 16 game against the Seattle Sounders in which Casey went down with a torn Achilles in the first half, five different Rapids players have opened their season account. Nyassi has been the most prolific, netting four times since switching to a forward role, but Mastroeni, Mullan, Wells Thompson and Kosuke Kimura also scored for the first time in 2011 during that period.

Thompson scored and assisted in the 4-3 loss to Seattle, and four days later he scored against the New York Red Bulls.

There is no doubt the Rapids have adapted their game since Casey’s injury, relying on the speed of Cummings and Nyassi, and Mullan said the midfield providers have been concentrating on getting balls in earlier and behind the defense rather than playing high balls into the middle.

But it may be a more patient mindset and crisper passing that is creating more goalscoring opportunities. Case in point: Colorado's 2-0 defeat of the East-leading Columbus Crew on Friday.

“We held the ball and we moved it unselfishly, and I think that’s something that’s been missing," Mullan said. "We’ve been winning but grinding it out, and I think this is the way we need to try and play a bit more.”

The Rapids, now up to fourth place in the MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings, may just be hitting some of their best form of the season at precisely the right time.

“It just means more confidence, more momentum going into the next game,” Cummings said. “Knowing that you are winning games, you are scoring goals, especially going away [next weekend], it means good confidence for the team.”

The Rapids next travel to play the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday (10:30 pm ET; watch LIVE online).