The strength of the Colorado Rapids a year ago was their defense. After two games in the new season, with a new coach and several new faces, the defense remains, for the moment, the key to the team.
Against perhaps the strongest striker tandem in the league, Eddie Johnson and Carlos Ruiz of FC Dallas, the Rapids conceded no goals and only three shots on goal in Saturday's scoreless draw.
"Right now the focus is going to have to remain on the defense," said Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon. "I think in this league it can be really hot and cold with strikers. We do have guys like Jeff Cunningham and Wolde Harris who can catch on fire, but you can't depend on that."
But midfielder Mark Chung believes that the Rapids need to be more than just a defensive wall.
"Defense can't be the story of the team this year. We have too many good attacking players for that to happen. As soon as we've been playing together more we'll start scoring lots of goals," Chung said.
The key to the Rapids success on both sides of the ball appears to be controlling more of possession. Their attack in the first half consisted mainly of long balls from the back, a strategy fullback Nat Borchers says isn't productive.
"In the first half we were playing right into their hands when we were playing over the top, but in the second half we brought Chung into the midfield and we were able to play the ball through him and calm things down a little bit," Borchers said.
Chung agreed. "If we play the ball in the air, we're not going to do anything. When we play the ball on the ground, like we did in the second half, we're dangerous," he said.
It is apparent that the 2005 Colorado Rapids, on both offense and defense, remain a work in porgress. It remains to be seen what will emerge as the story of this team.
"We do have more depth this year, but so far our execution hasn't been as good," Cannon said. "I think this team has great potential, but we haven't achieved that yet."
Geoffrey Urland is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.