The smoke that can be seen rising over Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver comes from the hopes of the Colorado Rapids crashing back down to earth.
There had recently been signs of progress for Colorado, with two wins in two games last week that had propelled them back into playoff contention. But a 3-1 home loss to FC Dallas on Saturday night put a halt to that forward momentum.
"The two wins were incredible for us, but it was a total team effort and tonight we lacked that team effort," said Rapids coach Fernando Clavijo. "We looked like an average team."
Particularly frustrating for the Rapids was the lack of passion.
"I think it all started when we came out at the beginning of the game and didnt have any intensity," said defender Nat Borchers. "They were able to find the spaces we gave them because we were chasing them all around the field and didn't play good team defense."
Clavijo concurred: "We were three seconds late into every tackle, we didn't pursue, we didn't pass. We had an opportunity tonight and like every time when we have an opportunity to move ahead we don't do it."
Although the Rapids did generate several scoring chances, outshooting Dallas 14-8, most of those opportunities were generated via long passes out of the back that bypassed the midfield.
"I'd like to see more possession," said Clavijo. "We tried to play through the midfield, but the midfield today was inconsistent and when you lose possession through the midfield you bypass it."
Borchers, who played several of those pinpoint long passes, would actually prefer to have more midfield buildup as well.
"I don't want us to be the type of team that has to send long balls over the top every game to win because we have great players that can possess the ball," Borchers said. "We shouldn't be a long-ball type of team."
Regardless of the tactics employed, the result is frustrating for the Rapids.
"I wish we would have had anyone on our team who would have stepped up, but we didn't," said Clavijo.
Geoffrey Urland is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.