Same problems, different day: Early goals, defensive woes lead to Colorado Rapids’ fourth-straight loss

Rinse, lather, repeat.

The same roughly familiar, and ultimately ugly, tale replayed itself on Sunday night for the Colorado Rapids in their 4-2 loss at D.C. United.

For the fourth straight match, the Rapids lost with that all-too-familiar storyline – allow an early goal, scuff numerous opportunities then collapse defensively at key moments – and it’s starting to wear thin on head coach Pablo Mastroeni, who watched his team fall apart in the second half at RFK Stadium.

“We were good for about 12, 13 minutes, and then we give up a soft goal [on a] bad giveaway,” Mastroeni told reporters after the game. “That’s the position we’ve found ourselves in the last couple [matches].”

The Rapids were nearly bailed out by midfielder Dillon Serna’s terrific 52nd-minute goal, which came on a volley more than 20 yards from goal and one that could certainly challenge for AT&T MLS Goal of the Week. But for all the excitement that the equalizer created (along with Serna’s subsequent celebratory back flip), Colorado’s leaky defense sucked all the air out of the room in the ensuing minutes.

Worse still, Rapids captain and center back Drew Moor suffered a right knee sprain on Luis Silva’s opening goal, forcing the veteran to sub off for rookie Jared Watts early on. With defensive depth already thin for a group that had allowed seven goals in its previous three matches, the rookie, primarily a midfielder, looked lost at times in the second half.

Despite the numerous missing defensive pieces, Mastroeni didn’t make any excuses.

“We have a team here,” he said. “The guys that are in there are in there because they can play. So I’m making no excuses for the guys that are on the field, and I don’t expect them to make any excuses.”

With four straight losses and just five points from their previous eight matches, the panic button is blaring loud and clear in Colorado, numerous issues glaringly evident during the club’s worst skid of the season. Issues that were succinctly and comprehensively summarized in Sunday night’s defeat.

“I think lack of confidence is an issue,” Mastroeni said. “Unfortunately, the only way in life to find it is to sit with yourself and be quiet. That comes from within.”

Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.