Rapids grappling with same mistakes in yet another defeat

Tony Cascio after a 2-1 defeat to Dallas

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Don’t finish, allow sloppy goal, lose game. Rinse. Repeat.

As the Colorado Rapids suffered their fifth loss in six games on Saturday night following a 2-1 home setback to FC Dallas, a troubling trend continued to unfold. Despite having only three points to show for their past six games, the Rapids have controlled large stretches in each of their losses, but late defensive meltdowns and a failure to capitalize on scoring chances have turned into a running theme for them over the past month.

HIGHLIGHTS: COL 1, DAL 2

“We just lacked concentration, and maybe a little lack of heart and a little lack of knowing where our guys are at and thinking someone else is going to pick them up,” goalkeeper Matt Pickens said. “I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got to go back and look, but we just gave them the game again and it’s unacceptable.”

The Rapids let numerous chances go to waste in Saturday’s loss. Omar Cummings, who scored Colorado’s lone goal on the night, rocketed an open effort in front of goal off the post in the 72nd minute and also saw his open first-half header miss the target. An unmarked Jaime Castrillón missed a first half volley high despite being right in front of goal, and several second half set pieces went to waste, leading to another tough defeat.

“Collectively we just keep finding ways to shoot ourselves in the foot,” striker Conor Casey said. “We had a lot of chances in the first half again and don’t finish, and when you don’t finish, then it makes it a lot harder on us.”

But just as the offense squandered several key opportunities, it was the defense that ultimately let the Rapids down. Substitute Carlos Rodríguez was left unmarked by the Rapids’ defense in his 60th minute equalizing goal for Dallas, and Colorado’s back line was caught pushing forward when Dallas grabbed Fabián Castillo’s 81st-minute game-winning score.

“The first one it was one of those where the corner kick was just kind of a half clearance,” defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com. “We stepped up, but some guys didn’t follow their man and left the guy wide open, and [Rodríguez] is one of the smallest guys on the field and he heads it in. You’ve got to stay marked and we weren’t marked up. It’s just accountability, that’s winning your one-v-one matchups.”

All in all, it adds up to a troublesome run of form for Oscar Pareja’s team, who are searching for answers in the lead-up to two crucial road tests this week.

“Now we need to get results and get things done,” Pareja said. “In a game like [Saturday], it’s probably a reflection of what has been happening in many of the games. We do a lot of good things, but then we don’t finalize the job and then that happens. It is frustrating, but we cannot lose our heads.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.