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Injuries, poor set-piece defending not an excuse for Rapids

It has become the problem that just won’t go away.

Despite spending a large chunk of the past week of practice working on defensive tactics, the Colorado Rapids allowed two goals once again to Sporting Kansas City in US Open Cup action, marking the fourth time in the last five games they have allowed two goals in a game.

The backline was bombarded by injuries on Tuesday night as regular center backs Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor were both forced to miss the Open Cup clash because of an injury. To make matters worse, poor set-piece defending, an Achilles heel for the Rapids defense all season, reared its ugly head again at Livestrong Sporting Park.

WATCH: SKC 2, COL 0

“It hurts because we knew KC are about set pieces and putting numbers in the back,” Rapids coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s tough, the lack of concentration from the set pieces. We know that it’s painful.”

Despite being shut out, the Rapids offense created plenty of opportunities and were unfortunate not to get on the scoreboard – Jaime Castrillón’s one-timer banged off the crossbar in the 52nd minute – but playing from behind ultimately made it difficult for Colorado to find a rhythm.

“They’re very dangerous in set pieces, and they do a good job getting on the end of loose balls,” defender Scott Palguta said. “Sometimes you create your own luck. If you’re scrappy and opportunistic like they are, you’re hard to beat.”

Moor, a staple in central defense, was a precautionary, last-minute scratch with a tight hamstring, although he did tweet Wednesday morning that he will be fine for Colorad’o June 16 showdown in Vancouver. Pareja, however, didn’t want to use Moor’s injury or any of the Rapids’ other numerous absences as justification for the loss or the lapses in defensive concentration that allowed both goals.

“As coaches, we cannot have those as excuses in the game,” Pareja said. “Obviously, it is difficult when you have people that don’t start regularly, but today I had people who did the job well. We’re still proud of the fact that the boys played on the field.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.