The last time the Colorado Rapids faced significant injury scratches in their lineup, it ended in a 4-1 landslide defeat at the hands of the New York Red Bulls.
Wednesday evening, with center back Marvell Wynne missing out with a strained right hamstring and striker Conor Casey being held out as a precaution as he continues to recover from a ruptured Achilles, they put up a better fight, but still fell 2-1 at the New England Revolution.
And coach Oscar Pareja was not best pleased, pointing his finger straight at his defense for allowing two preventable goals.
“We’re frustrated because the truth is, the goals in the first half were unacceptable,” Pareja told MLSsoccer.com by phone after the game. “We can’t gift goals to the opposition like that. We’re really frustrated as a group, especially the coaches.”
The Rapids sorely missing the steady presence of Wynne, a regular force in the heart of the Rapids’ back four. His absence was evident from the get-go as Colorado allowed two goals in the game’s first 40 minutes – to a Revolution side that had managed just one goal in its previous three contests.
After Jaime Castrillón headed the Rapids ahead in the 21st minute, it took just six minutes until Saer Sene was gifted an enormous amount of space from close range to level the game at 1-1. And in the 39th, poor closing from Pareja’s backline allowed Fernando Cárdenas to neatly chip a ball over Matt Pickens for a 2-1 Revolution lead, and ultimately, the game-winning tally.
And so once again, the Rapids were unable to find an adequate replacement for a steady regular.
“You always miss a guy like Marvell with his athleticism, his speed, and even his leadership,” Wynne’s fellow center back, Drew Moor, told MLSsoccer.com postgame.
Despite the result and the shaky first half defense, the Rapids were unlucky not to collect at least a share of the points at Gillette Stadium, as they were unable to convert a 19-16 shot advantage, a 59 percent share of possession and a flurry of second-half opportunities into points.
“We played extremely well in the final 45 minutes,” Moor said. “But we need to start games better. Oscar’s putting all the right people out there, making the right moves. We’re struggling when we start games. It’s up to people like me, like Jeff [Larentowicz], like Matt [Pickens] to give us a boost. We need a little more bit in the first 20 minutes.”
Despite the shaky defense and gut-churning defeat, the Rapids will hope to take the advantage in overall play – and the potential returns of Wynne and Casey – into a tangible result on Sunday, when they travel to north Texas to battle FC Dallas (7 pm EST, Galavision).
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.
HIGHLIGHTS: NE vs COL