Although the Colorado Rapids clinched a spot in the playoffs with their 1-1 tie against the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, the team was far from breaking out the champagne.
"It's part of mission accomplished," said Rapids coach Tim Hankinson. "It's a big step after what we've been through this year, but we feel that we let points slip away."
Although the Rapids controlled the first half, they allowed the Quakes to get back into the game in the second half.
"We just didn't do our jobs the second half, in getting behind the ball, working hard enough, and staying with our men," said Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon.
"We lacked possession in the second half and we were flustered a little bit. We need to hold possession a little more ... and create some more chances. At home tonight, I don't think we created enough chances ... against a team that's struggling."
Hankinson indicated that the pressure of the stretch run contributed to the Rapids' second half slide.
"These are big games, and we came out and played the first half tight," said Hankinson. "Playing tight drains you. And we got frustrated with our play so we pressed and that also drains you. So I think we need to play a little more confident, a little more relaxed, and do a better job with our possession. That's the thing that keeps you defending, when you don't have possession."
Looking toward their last game against the Columbus Crew in two weeks time, Hankinson does see one place for the Rapids to concentrate their efforts.
"If you cough the ball up as often as we did tonight you're putting yourself in a defensive posture unnecessarily," Hankinson said. "Teams see that and they put pressure on you ... It's just something that we have to work on." But no matter what their last game brings, the Rapids feel like they let a chance slip through their fingers against the Earthquakes.
"We didn't do our job tonight," said Cannon. "[We] need to go back to the drawing board and try to get a good result against Columbus."
Geoffrey Urland is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Soccer or its clubs.