The Colorado Rapids hope they’re finished with their finishing problems, once and for all.
Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja has made it clear that the burden of scoring goals is on the broad shoulders of center striker Edson Buddle. And in Saturday’s 2-0 road win over the Crew, Buddle and the Rapids did exactly what they needed to do: capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
Two goals, an 8th-minute strike from Buddle and a 69th-minute deflected blast from rookie Dillon Powers, were the difference in Colorado’s second straight victory.
“We took advantage of the opportunities we had,” Pareja said post-game. “Everything just came [together] for us.”
Buddle started his first game on Saturday since April 13 following problems with right knee inflammation, and it took less than ten minutes for his impact to be felt in a big way.
Chasing a cross into the Crew penalty box, Atiba Harris chested down the pass and fed it perfectly in the direction of Buddle, who cut across goal between two defenders before stroking a low finish past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum to put the ball in the back of the net for the Rapids’ opening strike.
“I tried to put myself in a dangerous spot, and I saw Atiba post up his guy before he got the ball,” Buddle said post-game. “It popped right to me, and I had a good touch and I was able to put it into the back of the net.”
Scoring goals hasn’t been an easy task so far this season despite Pareja’s up-tempo, possession-oriented attack. Missed opportunities have cost the Rapids points this season in games they’d otherwise controlled, and heading into Saturday’s contest at Crew Stadium, they’d only managed eight goals in ten matches, far below Pareja’s and the team’s expectations.
Saturday marked only the second time the Rapids have scored multiple goals so far this season – the other being a 2-2 draw against Portland on March 30th – but it was perhaps also a sign that the Rapids are finally turning the corner after missed opportunities defined their first nine games of the season.
And the return of the Rapids’ big No. 9 is the biggest reason for optimism.
“Edson is a player that we have been waiting for,” Pareja said. “When you have someone to put the ball in the back of the net, everything looks better.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.