COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – When a team is mired in as deep a slump as the Colorado Rapids are currently in, it’s usually due to a wide combination of factors. This slump, however, comes down almost entirely come down to one key issue.
Scoring (14 goals in their last nine games) has not been a major worry during Colorado’s brutal 1-6-2 spell since the beginning of July. The problems almost exclusively lie at the back, and they’ve only gotten worse over the losing skid due to a slew of injuries. The Rapids have allowed an eye-popping 21 goals over their last 9 games (2.33 goals per game), capped by 11 goals allowed over their last three games (3.67 goals per game).
Armed with a struggling and thin backline that could feature veterans Marc Burch and/or Thomas Piermayr moving from the outside to center back, Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni will try to beat the odds and fix his defensive woes on Saturday afternoon against the Seattle Sounders (4 pm ET, MLS Live), MLS’ third-highest scoring offense with 43 goals this season.
“It’s a byproduct of where we are in this development stage, but I think it’s one that’s very important,” Mastroeni said of the Rapids’ woes, while adding that defenders Jared Watts (hamstring) and Shane O’Neill (knee) will miss Saturday’s matchup. “In this [losing] run, we’ve had some of our best performances.”
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The last time the two teams squared off back on April 26, the Sounders overran the Rapids 4-1 at CenturyLink Field. On Saturday, the Rapids and Sounders meet with a bit more on the line.
Seattle need three points to keep the hard-charging LA Galaxy, and FC Dallas, at bay for the top spot in the Western Conference, while Colorado sit three points behind the Vancouver Whitecaps for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West. For Colorado to have any chance of making the postseason, the defense has to improve dramatically, starting this weekend in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s the little intangibles – a belief you’re going to win that game, experience to close those games out,” Mastroeni said of what the Rapids are lacking at the moment. “The only way to gain experience in life is [through] hardships.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.