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Defensive frailties exposed again in Colorado's latest loss

Simon Dawkins scores on Matt Pickens

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One simple statistic points to why the Colorado Rapids have collected just one point over their last three games: they’ve allowed eight goals in that span.

The Rapids’ defense crumbled in a 4-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday night at Buck Shaw stadium. From the onset, Colorado struggled to keep up with the hosts’ superior pace and physicality.

OPTA CHALKBOARD: Quakes run rampant against Rapids

“[San Jose] plays extremely direct, which calls for a physical game,” defender Drew Moor told MLSsoccer.com by phone post-game on Saturday. “We didn’t deal well enough with it. They’ve got some big boys up front. The goals came from crosses we didn’t deal well enough with.”

HIGHLIGHTS: SJ vs COL

In the first half, Rapids right back Hunter Freeman was beaten by the Quakes’ Simon Dawkins for San Jose’s 11th-minute opener. A little over a half hour later, on a cross, Quakes striker Alan Gordon stepped in front of ball-watching Rapids left back Luis Zapata and finished for a 2-0 San Jose lead.

But just as the Rapids appeared to gain a foothold thanks to Tyrone Marshall’s 54th-minute header, Dawkins restored the two-goal advantage in the 68th minute after he was left unmarked at the top of the penalty box. Gordon put the final nail in the coffin with an open 75th-minute finish, completing the 4-1 rout and a miserable night at the office for the Colorado back four.

“I don’t think that we were able to handle it from the start,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz told MLSsoccer.com by phone post-game on Saturday. “The field is small and slick, and we weren’t as sharp with the ball as we should’ve been.”

If not for several standout saves from goalkeeper Matt Pickens, Saturday’s result could have been even more lopsided. San Jose landed 17 attempts, forcing Pickens into three fine saves. In particular, the Rapids appeared to struggle recovering from their frequent trips forward, leaving the defense to scramble and allowing the Earthquakes to move forward at will.

FULL LINEUPS AND BOXSCORE

“When you leave big gaps, teams are good enough to exploit those areas, which San Jose was tonight,” Moor said. “We were leaving too many holes between the back four and the midfield. We didn’t have guys to occupy it and that was obviously a problem tonight.”

The four goals allowed by the Rapids on Saturday night tied a season-high, matching their 4-1 loss on March 25th to the New York Red Bulls.

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.