COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – Last year, the Colorado Rapids peaked at the right time, going on a scoring tear and winning games throughout September and October to qualify for the postseason and eventually win MLS Cup.
This year, things seem to be going in the opposite direction.
After an unbeaten eight-game run, the Rapids have now lost their last three games in both the league and CONCACAF Champions League, scoring just one goal and conceding seven. That includes four allowed on Tuesday night against a rampant Santos Laguna side.
Players and coaches alike said there was no substantial lack of confidence in the group and that they expected things to turn around quickly. They’ll have to, given they face a road trip to Canada to play a rejuvenated Toronto FC on Saturday (1:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“A quick turnaround is a good thing after tough games like this,” defender Drew Moor said. “Physically, it’s always tough. But mentally, we can put this one behind us.”
Moor said the Rapids were weak both defensively and in attack against Santos, but that he had faith in his teammates to find the net more frequently going forward. Colorado have only five league games left this season, including vital home tilts against Western Conference rivals FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. They also have three more CCL group-stage games.
“We’ve got guys who can score, who have scored more than 10 goals in the past couple of seasons, so we are not worried about that,” Moor said. “Obviously, we haven’t scored as much as we are used to but that will turn around. We have the guys who are hungry, who have the quality to put the ball in the net and we have the guys to make passes to them.”
The fact remains, though, that Conor Casey — so instrumental in the MLS Cup run last year — remains tied at the top of the Rapids' scoring chart with just six goals, and was ruled out for the season almost two months ago.
Omar Cummings, who partnered so dangerously with Casey over the last several years, has only three goals on the season amid persistent injury and international call-ups. The Jamaican played a full 90 minutes Tuesday for the first time in several games and said he would be fit for the weekend.
Head coach Gary Smith, never one to publicly display much doubt about the abilities of his team, praised their work ethic in the second half last night as he admitted they had come up against a very efficient Santos Laguna side.
“Santos are the favorites in the group and they played like favorites,” he said. “Nights like tonight can dent some confidence, no doubt about it. The disappointing aspect is that we conceded four goals.”
Nick Thomas covers the Rapids for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached via twitter @rapidsstuff or at firstname.lastname@example.org.