COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — Through the Colorado Rapids’ 19 losses so far in 2012, head coach Oscar Pareja has questioned many things about his team, but never his team's effort. Until Saturday night.
The first-year head coach felt that his players didn't give it their all in the Rapids’ 4-1 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes, where Colorado fell behind 1-0 just 95 seconds into the contest and trailed 2-0 by the 11th minute.
“I would say that this group has shown me all the time heart and working despite of the frustration and everything, but today we didn’t find that,” a visibly frustrated Pareja said post-game. “As a manager, we always take the responsibility, because it could be the preparation, it could be some mental thing that we could do, some button that we need to push, but it didn’t happen today, for sure.”
Full Match Highlights: COL 1, SJ 4
On Wednesday, the Rapids were eliminated from postseason contention, but on Friday Pareja spoke of the Rapids’ need to stay professional despite not having a postseason to play for.
On Saturday night, however, the Rapids’ defense was broken down early and often as Chris Wondolowski’s hat trick paved the way for a 4-1 throttling in front of the Rapids’ home crowd.
“Today I didn’t see [the effort].” Pareja told reporters after the match. “Today it was different, and that’s what frustrated me the most.”
Pareja's charges generally weren’t in agreement with their head coach’s assessment, but team captain Drew Moor acknowledged the Rapids’ effort didn’t match their opponents' effort.
“Maybe at times in the game, [our effort] was disappointing,” Moor told MLSsoccer.com. “San Jose’s a good team, and one thing they’re going to do is run you into the ground for 90-plus minutes. We know that. They’re physical, they’re big, they’re strong, but what they do is run for 90 minutes, all 11 guys that are on the field, and we weren’t able to match that intensity tonight.”
The Rapids’ postseason elimination earlier in the week, however, may have led to Pareja’s perceived lack of fire from his team.
“Going into the game, it’s kind of frustrating,” Rapids striker Tony Cascio said post-game. "We’d get the ball and people weren’t moving off the ball. I felt like we weren’t putting enough effort into the game, and that’s how it went. I think that took a lot of wind out of people’s sails, just knowing that this game didn’t mean anything.
"But at the same time, we were still out there," added Cascio. "I think people were still trying, but I just don’t think the effort was there.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.