Rapids still struggling to deal with Casey's absence

Omar Cummings

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The absence of striker Conor Casey is becoming an increasingly pressing problem for the Colorado Rapids, and there’s not much time left to figure out how to solve the problem.

The Rapids have suddenly lost their last three league games and one in the CONCACAF Champions League while trying to figure out how to score without their big man up top, and Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Toronto FC made it clear that fellow striker Omar Cummings can’t carry the load himself going forward.

“Absolutely we are missing Conor, someone to hold the ball in the middle,” defender Kosuke Kimura told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s not clear to me what our game plan is going forward. Omar is by himself all the time, and it is not easy for him to make something happen when he has three defenders around him.”

Casey scored six goals before he went down with a ruptured Achilles tendon on July 16. After the Rapids seemingly figured out how to deal with the loss by scoring multiple goals in each of their first six league games without Casey, they’ve failed to match the same intensity ever since.

The Rapids have scored just one in the last three league losses and were chased off the field in a 4-1 CCL loss to Santos Laguna last week. And both goals – Sanna Nyassi’s fifth of the season against Toronto FC and a rare strike from Brian Mullan in the loss to Santos – came after the Rapids had fallen behind.

Simply put, they’ve struggled to dictate the scoring for weeks, and head coach Gary Smith said that suddenly the Rapids simply aren’t performing the way they once were.

“It’s not a lack of creation, it is what is coming out of that at the moment that is the problem,” Smith told MLSsoccer.com. “You don’t have to be a world-class coach to see that the guys are not playing to their potential.”

There’s little time to go back to the drawing board, as the Rapids return to CCL action at home against Honduran side Real España on Wednesday. Then, a favorable home league match follows against San Jose on Saturday before two tough league games follow at home next month: FC Dallas (Oct. 1) and Real Salt Lake (Oct. 14).

The Rapids also travel to El Salvador for a CCL matchup against Isidro Metapán on Sept. 28.

“We are looking at a couple of wins in those next three games, especially because they are against good opposition,” Smith said. “That would secure not just a playoff position, but it could get us going on a run.”

Said Kimura: “Everybody just needs to step up just a little bit more if we want to do well in the playoffs. It’s just a little thing, but it adds up.”